Beware! The Blob! Not the giant amoeba from the cult sci-fi movie, but a monster amount of warm water growing in the Pacific, a few hundred miles off the coast of North America.

It’s not unusual to have warm patches of ocean water, but this one’s much larger and hotter than normal – by up to seven degrees Fahrenheit.

Mote: “So this is a very, very warm mass of water, and it’s been around off and on, shifted around a little bit, for the last year and a half, approaching two years.”

That’s Philip Mote, Director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute. He says the blob is linked to a ridge of high pressure that’s been parked over the Pacific, where it suppresses wind and cloud formation.

Mote: “So this water was essentially just allowed to cook in the sun and heat up without having the heat dissipated by wind.”

Researchers say the same high-pressure ridge is making California’s epic drought worse, and the blob itself may contribute since ocean temperatures can affect the weather in coastal states.

Extreme weather can seem like it’s right out of a scary movie, so Californians struggling with water shortages and record heat hope the Pacific blob is not as unrelenting and formidable as its namesake.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

More Resources
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Calling all citizen scientists!

David Appell

A regular contributor to Yale Climate Connections since 2012, David Appell, Ph.D., is a freelance writer living in Salem, Oregon, specializing in the physical sciences, technology, and the environment. His...