NOAA, El Nino and The Blob

July 23, 2015


Above, NOAA released some images yesterday comparing the current El Nino set-up with the historically huge event of 1997-98.  The big difference in the images is the extensive red “Blob” off the west coast of North America – a new development that has scientists puzzled, and was the subject of a recent video, see below.

Portland Oregonian:

This year’s burgeoning El Niño looks a lot like the last strong El Niño of 1997-98 in an image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The side-by-side images from 1997 and July 2015 by the agency’s Environmental Visualization Laboratory show a broad swath of warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures extending from the mid-Pacific Ocean at the equator to the coast of South America.

El Niño’s warmer waters appear a bit larger in the 1997 image, but the image from July 2015 also shows a large pool of warm water along the northwest coast of the United States.

That pool has been dubbed “The Blob” and may have an even longer-lasting detrimental effect on sea life,  scientists say.

Chris Harvey, a fisheries biologist with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, said the unprecedented warm blob off Alaska is sending currents of warm water down the coasts of Washington and Oregon.

“As far as climate scientists know, it could be a weird aberration or it could very well be something that could stick around for a while,” he said.

Or as Northwest Fisheries Science Center Director John Stien said, “We’re seeing some major environmental shifts taking place that could affect the ecosystem for years to come.”

Forecasters say one of the strongest El Niño’s in history is brewing up global climate disruptions that could not only throw Oregon agriculture out of whack, limiting snowpack in back-to-back years and cutting crop yields, it could extend the drought into normally wet Western Oregon.

MORE: El Niño is officially back, and looks stronger than ever | What El Niño means for the Northwest’s weather (Q&A)

The 1997-1998 El Niño was distinguished by record-breaking warm sea surface temperature anomalies in the equatorial east-central Pacific Ocean.

So far in 2015, increasing equatorial warmth is developing alongside a positive Pacific Decadal Oscillation, characterized by persistently higher sea surface temperature anomalies of the northeastern Pacific.

5 Responses to “NOAA, El Nino and The Blob”

  1. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    I’ve had enough of summer already. Just want it to stop now!

  2. The last speaker, honestly and unfortunately, said exactly what was needed to be said to keep the Merchants Of Doubt (TM) (C) rolling on: “Some say this is produced by climate change but it’s hard to prove scientifically.”

    If the last big California drought was 1976/77, and they get another nearly 40-years later, how often does this need to occur before it is the new normal, or welcome to the rest of your life? Then how long after that until someone can tie it back to anthropogenic climate change? And then what can be done at that stage to provide for future generations that should have started at least 20-years ago from today?

  3. Paul Magnus Says:

    So how does Kevin know that GW does not cause drought?

  4. Currently, we have, rather, negative phase of the PDO (,

    Probably for the above phenomenon, however, corresponds strong “meandering” jet stream (

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