A “marine heat wave” has developed in the North Pacific

An area of anomalously warm ocean water has assembled in the North Pacific. An article on the new region of abnormally warm ocean water has been called to my attention by NIU meteorological alum Raitis Bocka. Raitis was our intern of ours in our WGN weather office year ago and is always a sharp observer of meteorological developments.

If you’ll remember, a region of abnormally warm water was the subject of great interest in the Pacific several years ago. It was dubbed “The Blob” at the time.

Marine Heat Wave is the the term applied to extended periods of warmer than normal ocean water–and these marine heat waves have significant impact on marine ecosystems and also interact with the atmosphere. Coral bleaching has been associated with marine heat waves–in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as an example. The current Pacific marine heat wave is occurring in a region of deep ocean water and therefore isn’t present a coral bleaching threat. But it impacts the atmosphere above and impacts weather patterns.

The presence of a abnormally persistent La Nina in the equatorial Pacific appears a major factor in the development of this new “warm blob”. The article on this latest North Pacific warm pool notes a reversal in the water temp anomalies in the Pacific often occurs with La Ninas–put simply, La Ninas are signaled by a huge region of BELOW NORMAL OCEAN TEMPS along the equator west of South America while warm pools of water develop farther north.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) of the United Nations notes the role climate change may be playing in the current, abnormally persistent La Nina–already 3 years old, which is REALLY unusual–and indications the La Nina may continue into this winter–AND EVEN STRENGTHEN.

La Ninas have been known to contribute to MORE intense Atlantic basin hurricane seasons–something which is behind continued forecasts of an active 2022 Atlantic hurricane season despite its recent quiet nature.

And this long lasting La Nina offers further insight into the complex manner in which climate change is altering rainfall patterns across the planet.

More information here.

As a quote from WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas in the WMO release indicates: “Human induced climate change amplifies the impacts of naturally occurring events like La Niña and is increasingly influencing our weather patterns, in particular through more intense heat and drought and the associated risk of wildfires – as well as record-breaking deluges of rainfall and flooding.”