Daniel Swain in Mercury News: The ‘Blob’ is back: New marine heat wave emerges off West Coast
A massive marine heat wave that caused record warming of ocean waters off the West Coast five years ago, sending salmon numbers crashing and malnourished sea lions washing up on beaches across California and other Pacific states, is back, scientists said Thursday.
The ocean phenomenon, which researchers called “The Blob” when it appeared in 2014 and 2015, was caused by changes in wind patterns that limited the extent to which cold water in the deeper depths could move to the surface. Now the same thing is happening again.
“It’s been increasingly prominent over the past couple of months,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. “Over the past few weeks it has really expanded and intensified.”
Swain said that it’s too soon to know whether the pattern developing now increases the odds of a drought in California next year, as happened during 2014. But, he said, the warmer ocean temperatures do increase the chances of hotter weather for California this fall.