by Justin Miller of Walkersville Lions Pride
“The blob” is the reason we got snow in March in 2015 and why today, April 24th 2015, a freeze watch has been issued for the weekend. Why on Earth is it so cold? “The blob”- that’s why.
“The blob” is a term coined by climate scientist Nick Bond and refers to a very large patch of water on the West Coast that is about 2-3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it usually is in that part of the Pacific Ocean.
Not only has “the blob” been causing unusually cold weather on the East Coast, but it has also caused unusually warm weather for the West Coast. How can a giant patch of warm water that stretches from Mexico to Alaska cause cold weather on the East Coast?
Dennis Hartmann, a professor of atmospheric sciences explains that “…a proximate cause of the cold winter in North America in 2013–2014 was the pattern of sea surface temperature (SST) in the Pacific Ocean. Each of the three dominant modes of SST variability in the Pacific is connected to the tropics and has a strong expression in extratropical SST and weather patterns” and that “beginning in the middle of 2013, the third mode of SST variability was two standard deviations positive and has remained so through January 2015.”
The pattern of sea surface temperature Hartmann is referring to is also known as “the blob.”
Although there is no correlation between “the blob” and global climate change, the effects occurring in the West Coast are predicted to be very similar to effects of global warming as well as the ocean temperatures in the Pacific. “It wasn’t caused by global warming, but it’s producing conditions that we think are going to be more common with global warming.”
Hartmann, Dennis. “Pacific Sea Surface Temperature and the Winter of 2014 – Hartmann – 2015 – Geophysical Research Letters – Wiley Online Library.” Pacific Sea Surface Temperature and the Winter of 2014 – Hartmann – 2015 – Geophysical Research Letters – Wiley Online Library. 19 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015. <http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL063083/abstract>.
Hickey, Hannah. “‘Warm Blob’ in Pacific Ocean Linked to Weird Weather across the U.S.” UW Today. 9 Apr. 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2015. <http://www.washington.edu/news/2015/04/09/warm-blob-in-pacific-ocean-linked-to-weird-weather-across-the-u-s/>.