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2019-01-31. Ocean heat waves like the Pacific’s deadly ‘Blob’ could become the new normal.

posted Feb 4, 2019, 3:05 PM by Alan Gould
By Warren Cornwall, Science Magazine. [https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/01/ocean-heat-waves-pacific-s-deadly-blob-could-become-new-normal] For GSS Climate Change chapter 8 and Losing Biodiversity chapter 7. Excerpt: When marine biologist Steve Barbeaux first saw the data in late 2017, he thought it was the result of a computer glitch. How else could more than 100 million Pacific cod suddenly vanish from the waters off of southern Alaska?mWithin hours, however, Barbeaux's colleagues at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Seattle, Washington, had confirmed the numbers. No glitch. The data, collected by research trawlers, indicated cod numbers had plunged by 70% in 2 years, essentially erasing a fishery worth $100 million annually. There was no evidence that the fish had simply moved elsewhere. And as the vast scale of the disappearance became clear, a prime suspect emerged: "The Blob." In late 2013, a huge patch of unusually warm ocean water, roughly one-third the size of the contiguous United States, formed in the Gulf of Alaska and began to spread. ...By the summer of 2015, The Blob had more than doubled in size, stretching across more than 4 million square kilometers of ocean, from Mexico's Baja California Peninsula to Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Water temperatures reached 2.5°C above normal in many places....