December 24, 2018

Sad News: No More BLOB

A lot of folks are interested in the BLOB, the colorfully named area of warm water that periodically appears over the northeast Pacific.  And there is major BLOB news.... it is gone.  Let me describe the sad news.

Starting the autumn, the BLOB was relatively weak.  To illustrate, here is the sea surface temperature anomaly (difference from normal) for the end of October--as much as 2-3C warmer than normal!  This was associated with an area of persistent high pressure over the northeast Pacific.
But compare that situation to two days ago.  The BLOB is essentially gone, with an area of cooler than normal water developing.  Only immediately along the coast is the water temperature slightly above normal.

What killed the BLOB?   Persistent storminess over the northeast Pacific, something that is no surprise to the storm-battered residents of the Pacific Northwest. 

Here is the proof: the anomaly of the mid-tropospheric (500 hPa) heights from normal for the last 30 days.  Blue and purple indicate lower than normal heights, which is associated with more and deeper low-pressure centers, which in turn cause strong winds.  A big area of lower heights (or equivalently pressure) was found over the NE Pacific.

The BLOB forms with persistent high pressure that is associated with weaker winds.  Weak winds do not mix the upper ocean as much as strong wind, thus bringing up less cool water from below.   Persistent low pressure, with higher winds, are good at mixing, thus reducing water temperatures.  That is what has been going on lately.  There is no reason to expect that the BLOB is a sign of global warming.

So during this holiday season, your pleasure in enjoying a few day break may be tempered, at least a little bit, by a touch of sadness about the passing of our our old friend, the BLOB.  For myself, I find solace knowing that the BLOB  is sleeping, knowing that it will surely awake and return one day.


  1. What caught my eye is how much more intense the blob was near Alaska and that it is now forming north of Norway. Although no one particular blob might be considered evidence of global warming, wouldn't you need to study the formation of such blobs over a longer period and over a larger part of the globe to be able to say whether they are related to global warming and whether a consequence of global warming might be to cause them to occur more often and with more persistence and intensity?

    As always, thanks for presenting this interesting data.

  2. Say it ain't so. My horticultural endeavors thrive with the Blob's assistance. I love the blob.
    Is it still supposed to be a "Warm" winter?

  3. The blob is alive and well, my uncle Andy is here for the holidays

  4. Sad news?! I actually see this as GOOD news. I’ve been following on a daily basis.

  5. Bring the blob back for late February and March!

  6. For the third straight year, the global temperature has now cooled. Global warming isn't happening. Please disembark this Titanic of abusive science.

    1. Please summarize your data and the source of such info, otherwise what you're saying is unfounded

  7. The blob makes life tough on salmon, and we need more salmon to feed our orcas and ourselves. I hope we can agree that this is great news and I thank Professor Mass for sharing it!

  8. @Andrew Lincicome

    Why in the world would you think global warming isn't happening?

    Do you understand that 2016 was a record warm year and that not every year needs to be warmer than the one that preceded it in order for global warming to be occurring. As is explained at this link " the end of 2019, 19 of the 20 warmest years on record will have occurred since the year 2000."

    I understand that my pointing out the misinformation in your post will just make you feel you need to cling more closely to your original narrative, but given what was in the recent IPCC report and National Climate Assessment, one has to expose the misinformation that ignores the data and evidence.

  9. Blogger Andrew Lincicome said...

    "For the third straight year, the global temperature has now cooled. Global warming isn't happening. Please disembark this Titanic of abusive science."

    Do you have any scientific support for this assertion that you can cite? Your comment is certainly inconsistent with the recently released Fourth National Climate Assessment, both for the US and globally.

    Key message 1 specifically discusses normal variability in the context of the observed human caused global warming trend:

    "The last few years have also seen record-breaking, climate-related weather extremes. For example, since the Third National Climate Assessment was published,1 2014 became the warmest year on record globally; 2015 surpassed 2014 by a wide margin; and 2016 surpassed 2015.2,3 Sixteen of the last 17 years have been the warmest ever recorded by human observations."

    "For short periods of time, from a few years to a decade or so, the increase in global temperature can be temporarily slowed or even reversed by natural variability (see Box 2.1). Over the past decade, such a slowdown led to numerous assertions that global warming had stopped. No temperature records, however, show that long-term global warming has ceased or even substantially slowed over the past decade.4,5,6,7,8,9 Instead, global annual average temperatures for the period since 1986 are likely much higher and appear to have risen at a more rapid rate than for any similar climatological (20–30 year) time period in at least the last 1,700 years.10,11"

  10. good riddance blob! Signed, White Pass season ticket holder

  11. For the fish of the North Pacific, the blobs departure is nothing but great news.

  12. Same thing happened in December of 2014. Blob disappeared and a warm band of ocean settled along the west coast of North America. Rest of the winter was above-normal in terms of temperature. Precipitation in February and March was below normal in 2015 in southern BC and Washington. Current long range forecast suggest a similar pattern in the month of January this year.

    I have a feeling the Blob is associated with the positive phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation. You can notice a similar pattern of warm sea surface temperatures in the between 1975 and 1998 when the PDO was in its positive phase. One difference was that its extent was much smaller. Maybe global warming is making it bigger? It didn't show up between 1999 and 2013 because the PDO was in its negative phase.

    See my blog for my take on the what might happen during this year's ski season.

    Michael Pidwirny
    University of British Columbia
    Department of Earth, Environmental and Geographic Sciences

  13. It is my belief that The Blob is caused by the slowdown of the thermohaline ocean circulation caused by climate change.
    The N Pacific is an upwelling point of cold water from the depths of the sea.
    If the upwelling has been reduced then the surface will warm up.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

Substantial Snow Returning to the Pacific Northwest

During even the strongest El Nino years there is often a period at the tail end of winter when the atmospheric circulation associated with E...