May 30, 2017

The Cold Blob is here: what does this imply for this summer?

There is "The Force" and the "Dark Side of the Force"

There is matter and anti-matter.

And yes, there is Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

All polar opposites.

But there is another contrasting pair that all meteorologists should be familiar with:

"The Warm Blob" and the "The Cold Blob"    Also known as the Blob and the Anti-Blob

This Blob blog will tell you about the current situation and correct some misconceptions in the public domain about this misunderstood creature of the Pacific.

Many of you know about the warm Blob, a persistent area of warm water over the eastern Pacific (see image for the sea surface temperature anomaly, difference from normal, for Feb-March 2014).  This was a very strong Blob, with localized eastern Pacific waters as much as 4-7F about normal.
 One to two years ago, the warm blob was evident and the media took a LOT of notice.   Some suggested it caused our warm weather.  Some said it was the result of global warming.  The truth is that the warm blob was the tail, not the dog, and was forced by persistent high pressure over the eastern Pacific.

Many Blob lovers were dismayed with a dramatic change during the last year, with the warm Blob disappearing and shockingly, a cold Blob taking its place.  But few in the media covered this radical shift (for reasons I will let each of you imagine).

Here is a map of sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies (again difference from normal) for a few days ago.  Blue is colder than normal.  A cold Blob is off the West Coast, with temperatures reaching roughly 1.5 C (~2.5F) colder than typical.  Enough to put a chill down your back.

Why the chilly eastern Pacific?

Because instead of the high pressure anomaly that was over the eastern Pacific during 2014 and 2015, the atmosphere switched to a low pressure anomaly (a persistent trough) during the past winter.  To prove this to you, here are the 3-month 500-hPa height anomalies (difference from average) for October to December and January to March (blue indicates lower than normal heights--think of it as low pressure).  Low pressure is associated with stormier conditions that mix up the upper ocean (bring colder water to the surface).

What do the latest computer model forecasts suggest for the cold BLOB?  Here is the forecast of the large international medium range ensemble system (IMME), providing the predicted SST anomalies for June, July, August.   The cold Blob is still there, but weakens, with most of the northeast Pacific being near normal.
So what does this imply about our summer weather?

Not much.   

The effects of the surface temperature of the Pacific on our air temperatures are very modest, something I have proven with a series of simulation experiments in which I exchanged the warm Blob temperatures with normal conditions.   Only cooled the region west of the Cascade crest by a few degrees.    So having slightly cooler temperatures offshore will not stop a heat wave, but might contribute to a slightly cooler summer.

I do have some good news for Blob lovers:  there will be a modern remake of the old movie classic, including "Snakes on the Plane" star Samuel L. Jackson.   I can see it now.....perhaps he will be a meteorologist.... I have had enough of those **** Blobs in the **** Pacific Ocean.  It will be marvelous.


  1. Why are you sure the blob is the tail and not the dog?

    1. Especially given the implications of potentially the first ever ice-free arctic and what that might trigger; Larger methane releases.

  2. What does this mean for chances to see the solar eclipse?

    It better not be cloudy ANYWHERE on August 21.

  3. Bill - you should read his past posts regarding this subject, there were quite a few during that extremely warm period.

  4. The "blob" cut off we Central California Coast types from our beloved "May Gray" and "June Gloom" for many years. While anecdote is not data it seems this year we are luxuriating in these cool mornings, sunny middays and afternoon onshore breezes.

    Doesn't the "Cool Pool" contribute to dropping bits of what people think of as San Francisco Summers down coast?

  5. @Bill I believe he is staying it is the tail as persistent pressure fronts are what cause the blob.

  6. The salmon love the cold blob!

  7. I'm curious how the cold blob affects the persistence NW winds during the summer along the central coast. I remember 15 years ago they were not so strong and persistent. I measure the persistence by whether I can have an evening surf session on the central coast - any winds stronger than 7 knots with an angle of 330 degrees means no evening surf session.

    What conditions would give repeatably calm winds in the evening along the central coast?

  8. This occurrence of the anti-blob might re-write the books. It's been a cold year so far when compared to the rest of the contiguous United States. I'll be very surprised if our below average temperature doesn't continue. Gut feeling is somehow ocean temp is connected to land temp, we just don't know how.

  9. If you really don't know Trump and Clinton are controlled by the same people, and that politics is nothing more than politricks, then you Cliff, are again, sadly not looking at this world with the depth and breadth required for being more than just a sheep. Wake up

    1. If you think Hillary and Donald have similar politics, then you aren't a sheep, you're just blind. I'm no fan of Hillary by any stretch of the imagination, but trump is so ignorant and lacks any intellectual curiosity. He actually strikes me as someone who hasn't read a book in about fifty years. Hillary is an average or above average politician. Trump is just an egomaniac that got lucky.

  10. My recollection may be wrong here but was not the "Warm blob" quite persistent due to the anomalous warmth being not just at the surface, but also to a considerable depth. Is that also the case with this cold blob? If that is the case, it is indeed a blob but if not, maybe it will be less a blob and more a skin which temperature fluctuates with exposure to the sun.

    I only mention this as over the past few years the various SST anomaly images show variation over time, generally resulting in cold blob or warm blob, indicating that as Cliff always points out most of what we see is natural variability even if some climate change trends can be suspected.

    Meanwhile in the same images, the Berring Sea just to the north consistently shows significant persistent warming anomaly, as does most of the arctic waters. I assume this is a result of climate change, not natural variability, as the arctic waters warm to depth as the sea ice recedes. As Cliff and others point out, some parts of the world illustrate the magnitude of climate change much better than others. In general, the pacific north west is an area where the effects of climate change may be apparent, but not nearly as much as most.

    I think that fact should be remembered as we continue to discuss the potential of global warming while focusing on a region that illustrates it the least.

  11. The good thing about this is that our summer will be less humid compared with last summer and the one before!

  12. Well here is some stuff that will rock your world.

    Krill off gas elements that cause cloud nucleation. Strong sun hurts krill, so its a protective effect. Clouds mean cooler temperatures.

    Krill use a tough biological structure called Chitin. Chitin absorbs man-made radiation at rates of 200 to 20,000 background levels. Radiation destroys the bonds that make Chitin a useful structure.

    So even "low" levels of man-made radionuclides, can bio-magnify and kill the krill, meaning less clouds, and hotter temperatures. Incidentally the krill sink pretty quickly, taking the radiation to Davy Jones Locker.

    Obviously we had an el Nino, but on top of that we had the progression of Fukushima fallout and continued releases into the Pacific, a so called "blob" of radiation as measured by Woods Hole Oceangraphic Institute, which moved pretty in line with the hottest of the blobs. This radiation/krill/cloud heating event superimposed on top of the El Nino.

    We saw the results with half the whales gone from Hawaii in 2016 and I participated in the 2017 NOAA whale count, but haven't reviewed their synopsis, not sure if it is completed. And of course on the West Coast, the mass die-offs should be readily apparent to anyone not living under a rock. One main basis of the ocean food chain, the krill, have been toasted by radiation.

    NOAA in 2016, under direction from top government to push for the Paris Climate Scam, blamed the die-offs on domoic acid, even though the test results clearly show that only 1 to 3% were caused by domoic acid.

    This is the world that we live in. stock out

  13. Stock,

    Dimethyl sulfide (the compound to which you may have been referring that contributes to the production of aerosols which act as condensation nuclei), is generated, indirectly, by the metabolic processes of marine algae/phytoplankton, not krill. While certainly a good example of a biological control on climate and, thus, in my opinion, a thought-provoking lesson in ecology, if, as you suggest, anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation is contributing to krill die-offs, then, all other things being equal, we would expect to see an increase in clouds and, consequently, cooler days (but warmer nights) due to the increase in dimethyl sulfide production resulting from decreased feeding by krill on the major component of their diet, diatoms and other phytoplankton. Ironically, then, to combat global warming, we should attempt to ensure maximum production of dimethyl sulfide by thoroughly irradiating the oceans in order to suppress krill populations. ;)

  14. Stephen Murdock, all good points but you are forgetting something. This all makes perfect sense but only if by some miracle you avoid being sucked through the wormholes of INFOWARS.COM and Brietbart news. These of course lead to entire dimensions of reality simply not visible on this side of the wormhole, where under the deliberate influence of the MSM we are constrained by the shackles of the scientific process. On the other side, if only you dared, you will find that in fact climate changes all the time, CO2 is plant food and any attempt to maximize production of dimethyl sulphide through chem trails, vaccinations of our children or fluoridation of the public water supply can only be another nefarious UN plot to impinge on our right to imagine whatever we want and believe it to be true.

    Free your mind. Reject the reality based community.

  15. Bruce, I wish you would stop responding to anyone not agreeing with your opinions with smears and innuendo, they're nothing but simple projections on your part. Reactions such as yours are why you have Trump. Telling someone else to face "reality" from a person like yourself if akin to being urinated on when the person doing the urinating tells you it's raining.

  16. "So having slightly cooler temperatures offshore will not stop a heat wave, but might contribute to a slightly cooler summer." But interestingly, the NWS is predicting decidedly above average temperatures for this summer (and indefinitely after that):

  17. Bruce,

    My comment was simply an attempt at a little wry humor (note the winking face: ;) which I ended the paragraph with). I'm not sure I understood exactly what you were trying to communicate with your response, though it was clearly political in nature. To be clear, I am not a Trump supporter.

    Good looking out, George, er...Eric. ;)

  18. Oh come down off your high horse Eric. I'm just puling your leg. Teasing, you know. When someone - anyone including yourself - boldly makes statements like " NOAA in 2016, under direction from top government to push for the Paris Climate Scam...." then you are freely painting a giant "kick me" sign on your backside.

    I just assume it was deliberate, in good fun so to speak.

    sorry, I had no idea you or Stock was serious.


  19. OK.
    I am a simple red neck (literally) farmer.

    Yes CO2 is plant food! Ask any pot farmer. (I am NOT a pot farmer...)

    Yep Earth is a big old closed loop system.

    CO2 high in our atmosphere, and plants thrive, and thrive. They also sequester that carbon and emit the oxygen.. yes?

    So they create coal and oil over time. We humans come along and burn it and release the carbon in the atmosphere.

    Plants will thrive again in the CO2 rich atmosphere.

    The question is will Mammals?

    We evolved at the height of sequestered carbon (global cooling)

    This ain't political!!!!!

    Though both parties of our failed two party system use it to make political hay!!!

    1. Well then ask a pot farmer about co2 concentration and yield. They will increase level to 1,500-2,000ppm to get about a 60% increase in yield. So to get a 10% increase you have to DOUBLE the co2 if you think the plants are loving this and gobbling it all up,, you're sorely mistaken.

  20. I don't see the need for people to insult each other but I will observe that the Clintons were guests at Trump's wedding, and Trump was a donor to the Clintons. Whatever their policy differences, I don't think you could fairly characterize them as polar opposites. They're a bit chummy for that.

  21. You know Eric, many people are accused of being "Snowflakes", which is the inability to take criticism and the expectation that they should be sheltered from criticism.

    I welcome your criticism, particularly if you can inject some humour to ease the way, but even if you can't, if it is substantive. I agree that the rise of Trump is intrinsically linked to feelings of disrespect but you need to admit that unfounded claims are not worthy of respect. In fact to insist on respect in the absence of substance, is to be intellectually disrespectful itself. Profound sensitivity to criticism usually indicates that that criticism is well founded and may well have hit its mark, not that it is actually vindictive in nature. We must recognize, if we value validity at all, that many on the Right are essentially "snow flakes" when it comes to defending their claims of science and the motivations of the institutions of science. They expect their opinions to be accepted as valid even in the total absence of validity. This attitude of entitlement is a direct result of the ethic ascribed to Karl Rove as I linked above.

    I suggest you read it and consider its validity. This schism between the "Reality based community" and "history's actors" is fundamental to how validity is substantively acquired, or only fraudulently acquired. Fraud should not be respected, I'm sure you will agree.

  22. To his credit, Rove and those who follow his lead are honest enough to make the point that reality-based arguments are unimportant. They believe that changing the culture and popular opinions through communications and politics is more important than science.

    There is no doubt that his approach can be incredibly effective and powerful, based on history. You can indeed run a country this way.

    Just not a good country. Angela Merkel and her fellow Germans know this all too well.

  23. @Steve Rosenow

    Your chances of seeing the total solar eclipse within Washington are 0%, as the path of totality does not cross our state.

    Go to Oregon at least to be in the path of totality, and east of the Cascades if you are serious about maximizing your weather odds.

  24. John Marshall - You are right. The ability to envision your own reality is at the heart of all aspirational mythologies that help nations create unity of purpose in its citizenry. When risk is low (most of human history, if you are talking about ecological viability) ignoring realities ( dumping toxins, unsustainably plundering resources etc) can be entertained with little consequence, in favour of entertaining our aspirational mythologies. This is pretty much the scenario that humanity has experience with. We have little to no experience with extreme consequence. We are getting better (cooperating on avoiding nuclear armageddon, attempting to cooperatively manage fisheries, mitigate acid rain and the ozone hole etc) but by and large we act out the tragedy of the commons with little consequence and train ourselves to think that that is our endless reality.

    Myth of course is fantastic stuff, but only if it remains a metaphor for aspirational ideals - philosophical guidelines, so to speak. Whether those ideals can be achieved is always a function of our feet on the ground reality and as we all know, the best process known to humanity for understanding reality is the scientific process. If at any time a nation loses its grasp of reality and by necessity, discards the institutions responsible for revealing those realities, then what is left?

    The authority of myth. Envisioning our own reality is one thing. Creating our own reality is to regress back into the demon haunted world that long ago failed miserably in explaining reality and only achieved a history of grubbing about in the mud.

  25. Bruce - ah, the tired, old and busted canard of "what, can't you take a joke, I was only kidding!" schtick. This facade of hiding behind what was originally intended would be laughable if it wasn't so childish. Put on your Big Boy Pants and own what you posted and stop hiding behind double - speak. BTW, your claims of special snowflaking concerning anyone who doesn't agree with the AGW alarmists is hilarious, since one of the fathers of climatology (Richard Lindzen) and others like Dr. Judith Curry have been shouted down during their attempts to bring some clarity to the current debate. That's the actual reality of what's going on right now, but naturally you choose to ignore it. The Salem Witch Trials have nothing on these Torquemandas.

  26. Neither JC or Lindzen has been "shouted down" as their celebrity clearly indicates. However, for people like you and me, people with no competency in the science who can't actually validate their opinions, we must really on the opinions of their peers and by that standard, their opinions are gross outliers. There is no reason to believe that gross outlier opinion should be regarded as superior, and much reason to believe it is inferior. That is based on the credibility of the institution as a whole, the strength of the consensus that results and above all the easily demonstrated unreliability of incompetent opinion to tell one way or the other.

    And without a doubt Eric you cannot take criticism, delivered as a joke or otherwise.

  27. Further to the above observation that neither you nor I can judge the science, we can, with a much more attainable experience with and comprehension of human psychology, perhaps understand how a very small number of contrarians can so intransigently cling to the position they have cut out for themselves. In the case of Roy Spencer for instance, we would be fools to ignore his strong allegiance to a particularly dominionist strain of Christian evangelism.

    What is notable about Curry is her heavy reliance on the existence of uncertainty in prediction. While no one can deny that it exists, we can easily deny that inaction in the face of uncertainty is a hopelessly incompetent principle, if you know anything at all about risk management. In order to manage risk competently, we don't need to be expert climate scientists, but we do need expert opinion to inform our ability to take the lesser risks to mitigate the greater risk...... nearly always under conditions of uncertainty, Invariably, the need for absolute certainty is a major source of error in human cognition.

    So Curry displays risk incompetency, even as she shows climate skill. Lindzen on the other hand may well be just flat out neurotic. We will never know for sure without his willingness to disclose a skilled diagnosis, but in the meantime he does have a few red flags scattered throughout his history. From his Wiki page:

    "Lindzen has been called a contrarian, in relation to climate change and other issues.[72][73][74] Lindzen's graduate students describe him as "fiercely intelligent, with a deep contrarian streak."[75]

    The characterization of Lindzen as a contrarian has been linked to his view that lung cancer has only been weakly linked to smoking. Writing in Newsweek, Fred Guterl stated "Lindzen clearly relishes the role of naysayer. He'll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking. He speaks in full, impeccably logical paragraphs, and he punctuates his measured cadences with thoughtful drags on a cigarette"[76] – an observation that was later echoed by Robyn Williams.[77]

    Of course all this may explain motivation for their biases but in the end the only thing that matters is the quality of their opinion, as measured by their peers........... not as measured by anyone such as you and I, Eric.


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