The Blob is a large mass of water with relatively high heat content, floating at the surface and underneath the surface of the North Pacific Ocean. The Blob did appear several times before, including in 2016, which was a strong El Niño year. The above image shows high sea surface temperature anomalies in the North Pacific on August 10, 2023, raising the question of whether this constitutes a return of the Blob.
In a 2012 study, Jennifer Francis et al. warned that this makes atmospheric blocking events in the Northern Hemisphere more likely, aggravating extreme weather events related to stagnant weather conditions, such as droughts, flooding and heatwaves. The Blob appears to be the marine version of a heatwave on land.
The Kuroshio Current is an ocean current that carries heat along its path in the North Pacific, similar to the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic Ocean. Is the Kuroshio Current slowing down as temperatures rise and is such slowing down causing hot water to accumulate in the western part of the North Pacific, leading to a return of a new Blob moving across the North Pacific toward the coast of North America?
The animation on the right shows how remnants of Typhoon Merbok were forecast to enter the Arctic Ocean through the Bering Strait from September 17 to 19, 2022.
Studies, some of them dating back more than two decades, show that over the shallow East Siberian Arctic Shelf (ESAS) winds at times can mix the water column from the top to the bottom. A 2005 study of the ESAS led by Igor Semiletov recorded water temperatures at the seafloor, in September 2000, of 4.7°C at 20m depth at one location and 2.11°C at 41m depth at another location, with salinity levels of 29.7‰ and of 31.7‰, respectively.
The situation is dire and is getting more dire every day, which calls for a Climate Emergency Declaration and implementation of comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan with an update at Transforming Society.
• Evidence Linking Arctic Amplification to Extreme Weather in Mid-Latitudes, by Jennifer Francis et al. (2012)
• Record high North Atlantic sea surface temperature
• The East Siberian Sea as a transition zone between Pacific-derived waters and Arctic shelf waters – by Igor Semiletov et al. (2005)
• Climate Plan
• Transforming Society
• Climate Emergency Declaration