PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Scientists are looking into something they’ve deemed ‘the blob’ as a reason behind the heat and dry weather on the west coast.
The blob is a huge area of warmer-than-normal water in the Pacific Ocean that was first noticed 18 months ago. How it got there, however, is still a mystery.
“It’s now about the size of Alaska, so it’s a very big patch and it extends down through the top layer of the ocean which is about 300 feet deep,” Phil Mote, head of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at OSU, explained. “So that whole layer is exceptionally warm.”
Scientists are speculating the enormous blob — 1,000 miles in each direction from Alaska to Mexico — could be causing the drought in Oregon, Washington and California.
According to Mote, the problem with the blob is that it’s 5 degrees warmer than the rest of the ocean. Scientists believe air moving over the blob is bringing warmer air to the coast, resulting in a warmer winter and drier spring and summer.
“Last summer was record warm for Oregon, we’re kicking off with another record warm summer. Last winter was the warmest ever in western Oregon and Washington, the spring was quite dry,” Mote said. “So we’ve had a sequence of unusual climate events since the blob appeared.”
Mote and other scientists are now running hundreds of computer simulations in an attempt to see if the blob truly affects the climate, or whether it’s more greenhouse gases — like auto emissions — that are causing this hot, dry pattern.