August 2015 Update for The Blob

This post provides background information and a quick update on the naturally occurring warming event in the eastern North Pacific known as The Blob. Not just any blob, The Blob.

01 N. Pac SSTa Map Aug 2014 to Jul 2015

Figure 1


We first discussed an unusual hotspot in the sea surface temperature anomalies of the eastern extratropical North Pacific two years ago in the August 2013 post appropriately titled About the Unusual Warming Event in the Extratropical North Pacific Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies. That large pocket of elevated sea surface temperatures has been given the nickname The Blob. Since that first post, we’ve discussed it numerous times, along with its impacts on global surface temperatures:


Answer: According to Bond et al (2015), a persistent ridge of high pressure in the mid-to-high latitudes of the eastern North Pacific prevented the sea surfaces there from cooling normally. The Ridiculously Resilient Ridge is also responsible for the high temperatures and drought conditions along the west coast of the U.S.  See Anthony Watts’s April 2015 post “Warm blob” in Pacific Ocean not caused by climate change, affects U.S. weather at WattsUpWithThat.  It includes the press release for two papers: Bond et al. (2015) Causes and Impacts of the 2014 Warm Anomaly in the NE Pacific and Hartmann (2015) Pacific sea surface temperature and the winter of 2014.


Figure 2 presents the satellite-enhanced sea surface temperature anomalies (Reynolds OI.v2 data, not the pause-buster data) for The Blob, using the coordinates of 35N-55N, 150W-125W. The sea surfaces of The Blob continue to show warming, after a multidecadal period of no warming through 2012.

02 Blob Time Series

Figure 2

Based on the monthly data, Figure 3 shows the annual evolutions of The Blob’s sea surface temperature anomalies for the years 2012, 2013, 2014 and year-to-date 2015. Our base year with no warming is 2012. The majority of the warming took place in 2013. Then, in 2014, sea surface temperature anomalies ended a tick lower than they started in January. The sea surfaces of The Blob are once again warming in 2015, likely in response to the strengthening El Niño.

03 Blob Evolutions

Figure 3


I closed the April 2015 Blob post with the following questions.  They’re still valid:

  • How long will The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge last?
  • Assuming a La Niña follows this El Niño, will the La Niña be strong enough to overcome The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge?
  • What will be the combined effects of the strengthening El Niño, The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge on weather worldwide over the next 12 months?
  • Will the El Niño be strong enough to overcome the other two and bring rain to California, or will The Blob and the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge continue their influences there?
  • Will The Blob have a long-term impact on the sea surface temperatures of the Eastern Pacific Ocean as a whole? That is, will The Blob be responsible for another upward shift in the sea surface temperatures of the East Pacific Ocean like that in 1976/77?


The data and maps presented in the post are available through the KNMI Climate Explorer.

About Bob Tisdale

Research interest: the long-term aftereffects of El Niño and La Nina events on global sea surface temperature and ocean heat content. Author of the ebook Who Turned on the Heat? and regular contributor at WattsUpWithThat.
This entry was posted in Natural Warming, The Blob. Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to August 2015 Update for The Blob

  1. omanuel says:

    I am not a climatologist, but I am curious if the blob is restricted to the surface or perhaps represents a change in heat flow from the interior of the Earth that might precede a volcanic eruption?

  2. tomwys1 says:

    I had the impression that the “Blob” was heading down the coast. I see that a “Son of Blob” has formed off the Baja. Is it a mitosis split of the original?

    For a powerful El Niño to form, the Blob should eventually end up off the Panamanian, Columbian, and Ecuadorian coast, but it looks like the normal N to S Eastern North Pacific currents are not doing so with the requisite speed.

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out!!!

  3. Pingback: Warmer “Blob” im Nordpazifik – Kühler Nordatlantik | wobleibtdieglobaleerwaermung

  4. Bob Tisdale says:

    omanuel, data contradict your guesswork:

    The Blob formed in the west and migrated east.

  5. kuhnkat says:


    back in 2007 wasn’t it a persistent high that contributed to the excessive melt in the Arctic?? Are there any similarities between these events and other persistent highs we need to understand?

  6. Bob Tisdale says:

    kuhnkat, sorry. I can’t answer your questions. You may want to pose them to Joe Bastardi.


  7. Don B says:

    Hi, Bob,

    “LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — As El Niño continued to strengthen in the Pacific Ocean, climatologists on Thursday suggested in the wake of a newly released report that it has the potential to become the most powerful ever recorded and could bring “extreme rainfall” to drought-stricken California.”

    Haven’t there been other predictions that a developing El Nino will be the strongest ever? (Which didn’t turn out to be accurate?)

    Answering those questions might be a post idea for WUWT.

  8. Bob Tisdale says:

    Don, thanks for the link and the suggestion. We only have to last year’s failed predictions.


  9. Alec aka Daffy Duck says:

    Ridiculously Resilient Ridge going to move off and break up at least for a while? Link to a 180 hour animated pacific forecast… Right now (6:45am eastern) starting at the 120h the High pressure system moves west and dissipates:

    They update the forecast every 6 hours; the break up of RRR is new to their forecast as it was not on their forecast last night.

    Long story, I follow the arctic is and this time of year you have to follow potential pacific storms.

  10. Bob Tisdale says:

    Thanks, Alec. It’ll be interesting to watch the sea surface temperature anomalies:

  11. Hifast says:

    Reblogged this on Climate Collections and commented:
    Bob on the Blob.

  12. Frederik Michiels says:

    the longer i look at the animations, the more it looks to me like a PDO shift. Could this be the same event as the PDO shift of 1975/1977? it would be interesting to compare both anomaly animations to each other to see if they match?it actually is a sort of “intuitive guess” based on logic

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  17. Bob – I would very much like to hear your thoughts on the other “blue blob” in the north Atlantic that is getting so much press over the last few days. How does it fit historically? Does it foretell a slowdown of the thermohaline circulation?

  18. Bob Tisdale says:

    Hi teloscientist: First, let’s put something to rest right from the start. In order for the Gulf Stream to stop, the trade winds in the tropical North Atlantic have to stop blowing. And that would require the sun to stop shining and the Earth to stop rotating. Karl Wunsch of MIT wrote a letter about this more than a decade ago.

    Click to access naturegulfstreamltr.pdf

    And now for the sea surface temperature data for the “Blue Blob” as you called it. The following graph runs annually from 1880 to year-to-date (Aug) 2015. I’ve used the coordinates of 45N-60N, 60W-0 for that region.

    Notice the upward shift in the mid-1990s. Is there evidence the Gulf Stream sped up at that time?

    And in the following, I’ve smoothed the data with a 3-year filter.

    When people start claiming that global warming is causing regional cooling, it’s time to remind them how foolish that sounds.

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  22. Pingback: THE BLOB Seems to Be Disappearing at the Surface – But Will It Reemerge? | Bob Tisdale – Climate Observations

  23. Pingback: THE BLOB Seems to Be Disappearing at the Surface – But Will It Reemerge? | Watts Up With That?

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