'The Blob' Sequel: Warmer-than-normal water mass emerges in Gulf of Alaska again


    Warmer than normal water temperatrues are present in the North Pacific and Gulf of Alaska. (KOMO Image)

    JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Another mass of warmer than normal water is slowly re-emerging in the Gulf of Alaska, scientists said.

    The new "blob" could affect weather and fisheries in southeastern Alaska, but scientists said it doesn't appear as strong as the first one in 2013, KTOO Public Media in Juneau reported Monday.

    Washington State Climatologist Nick Bond coined the term "blob" to refer to water mass in the Pacific Northwest.

    "Without winds to draw heat out of the ocean and to mix up colder water from below, the near-surface waters, again, got quite a bit warmer than normal," Bond said.

    The gulf water is about four degrees Fahrenheit warmer than normal, but it is not as hot or as deep as the 2013 blob.

    "This isn't the new normal," Bond said. "But still, it's kind of alarming that we're talking about this sort of thing again so soon."

    The blob-like conditions could lead to milder weather in southeastern Alaska, meaning less freezing and more rain, said Rick Thoman, a climatologist with the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy.

    Southeastern Alaska is already seeing warmer-than-normal weather. Juneau's November was five degrees above normal, according to the National Weather Service.

    The warmer weather could disrupt fish behavior. The previous warm ocean conditions likely contributed to shifts in pollock spawn timing and extended the range of salmon.

    Andy Piston, a pink and chum salmon project leader with the state Department of Fish and Game, said a weak pink salmon run of 18 million is projected for next season. The last blob's effects were not uniform on pink salmon runs, he said.

    "Some stocks did outstanding, and some stocks right next door did very poorly. A lot did average," Piston said. "So part of the problem is that we don't know exactly where in the ocean individual stocks are going for the most part."

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    Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org

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