Oceanography Essay Example: The Blob

Published: 2019-09-06
Oceanography Essay Example: The Blob
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Geography Nature Water
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1292 words
11 min read

The blob is a large mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean near North America. It is called blob by the people of Alaska due to its circular shape at the sea surface. This water mass was first detected in the autumn of 2013 and early 2014 by Nicholas Bond, who was a state climatologist from the Institute of the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean in the University of Washington and colleagues after observing that a circular large mass of water was not cooling as expected, but remained warmer than the average normal temperatures (Peterson, Robert, & Bond 2015). It first appeared at Gulf of Alaska and quickly spread to more than 1.5-million square kilometers. The Blob It arrived in the near shore waters towards the end of 2014, and made the waters to remain warmer than usual.

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Researchers say the Blob is responsible for changes in currents, low biological productivity, salinity, dissolved oxygen and acidity, stratification and low nutrients. The blob causes abnormal weather conditions in the areas adjacent to the Pacific coast. The water is very poor in nutrients and therefore does not favour the growth of sea creatures. Since the occurrence was detected there has been high deaths of sea whales. This is an abnormal event which may be as a result of this blob. The most immediate cause of the blob is the lower than normal rates of heat from the sea to the atmosphere. This is accompanied by lower than usual water circulation in the ocean in a static upper layer of water. The result of this is a high pressure on the atmosphere above which is referred to as ridiculously resilient ridge. Lack of wind movement in the atmosphere causes wind currents and the wind generated stirring of the surface waters. This results in an unusual weather around the pacific. (Williams, 2015).

This blob is not a static feature. It constantly reshapes itself in circulation from mixing. This process has made it possible for this feature to spread all over the west coast over the last two years. Initially the blob covered a distance of five hundred miles wide and about three hundred feet in depth, it has now expanded and it spans a thousand miles in each direction and three hundred feet deep(Peterson, Robert, & Bond 2015). It arose from an unusual weather pattern that occurred about two years ago causing a large ridge of high pressure across the west pacific. This ridge reduced the intensity of the storms that reached the landfall resulting in a decrease in precipitation in these areas. The most immediate impact from this occurrence is on the oceans circulation which can be termed as a prime pump for the entire system. It is about 3 degrees warmer than the normal temperatures contributing to the abnormal warm and dry winter (Peterson, Robert, & Bond 2015).

There is warmer and cooler type of waters in the areas surrounding the blob which have different characteristics. The warmer water forms a dense vinegar and oil type layer which reduces the amount of vertical water mixing and therefore the warm water remains warm and the cold water remains cold. This has led to colder water remaining deep below hence preventing nutrients reaching the surface. This is a major threat to sea creatures like the shellfish and other types of fish. Due to this stratification, phytoplankton forms in the presence of light and nutrients. However, they do not form due to this hindrance effect of the vinegar like layer on warm water. They are not able to get enough nutrients from cold waters. As a result the phytoplankton quantity is reduced causing a great change in the food chain.

The blob is largely linked to the variations in productivity, distributions and abundances of marine life including mammals, fish plankton and birds (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2014). It has greatly changed the composition of organisms that made up the normal microscopic mix of phytoplankton. An organism has been discovered by the scientists which produces a neurotoxin known as domoic acid which is a shellfish poison (Scripps Institution of Oceanography, 2014).

Godzilla Nino and the blob

Researchers have confirmed that there are more risks that are associated with a warmer climate. This is because they add more energy to the environmental systems. Most of the heat from green house is absorbed by water then taken to the oceans. The ocean then circulates around the globe through acceleration by winds, earths spin and the unequal heat in the water. As a result of circulation, heat is buried deep below and the swarm currents are then obstructed and driven into abyss. El Nino was a warm phase in the ocean cycles while la Nino was a cold phase. A general term for the two was super El Nino. They started in1998 and their impacts are closely related to those of the blob. Their effect in 1998 was bigger than anything ever recorded raising the earths temperatures to about 0.17 degrees. This super El Nino is what is referred to by the scientists as the Godzilla Nino. Both the super El Nino lies under PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation).Causes of the Blob

The causes of this occurrence are unclear. Some scientists argue that it is as a result of wedge of warm water forming a cylindrical change in the water that flips from a cold phase to a warm phase by a process called pacific decadal oscillation, but the fact is not proved yet.

Effects of the Blob

A large expanse of ocean has been warmer than normal for a few years and has been accompanied by vigorous clusters of thunderstorms in areas around the pacific. This activity appears to have systematic effects on the large scale atmospheric circulation, in a manner similar to that associated with the El Nino southern oscillation phenomenon, a pattern of naturally occurring fluctuations in Pacific Ocean temperatures. But in this case, the roots are farther west in the vicinity of New Guinea. Additionally, some animals that are favored by warm waters and have never been spotted anywhere near north of Alaska have appeared multiple times. Some of these animals include warm water thresher sharks and ocean sunfish

Shifting of fish

The research has confirmed that fish have been shifting northwards at an average of thirty kilometers per decade as a result of this climate change. This is due to the change in water temperatures which affect nutrients in the water. Has a result the fish market in the region has greatly changed. For example, some fish species like salmon are highly affected by change in food resources in the ocean. They have been shifting their habitants towards the north. Others like chinook and orcas are also very sensitive to a slight change in climate. The water has been increasing in temperature to about 5.5 degrees than usual. For instance, The blob has become a top concern enemy of salmon fisherman in Washington and California, because these fishes have largely decreased. This shifting has caused both ecological and economic strain, because the marine species are running away from the high temperatures.

There are high chances that when el-Nino meets the blob, the blob will definitely lose. The dominance of El Nino will help to suppress the blob, and there are high chances of the blob disappearing for some time.


Nichols, C. R., Porter, D., & Williams, R. G. (2015). Recent advances and issues in oceanography. Westport (Conn.: Greenwood Press.

Peterson, W., Robert, M., & Bond, N. (2015). The warm blob-Conditions in the northeastern Pacific Ocean. PICES Press, 23(1), 36.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (2014). Bulletin of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press.

Scripps Institution of Oceanography. (2013). Contribution from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. La Jolla, Calif: Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

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