California Drought Report #8

Two new studies show that global warming is not behind the California drought.

The Examiner has the details:

The Warming Blob

According to yesterday’s Washington Post, there is a gigantic warm blob in the Pacific Ocean that is fueling California’s four-year-long drought, and it has nothing to do with global warming. Two new studies released this week in the journal “Geophysical Research Letters”, explain how this large expanse of warm ocean water is affecting California’s weather as well as the East Coast’s past two brutal winters.

In the first study, Nick Bond, Washington’s state climatologist, believes the blob, a.k.a. the “warm anomaly,” is behind California’s ongoing warm and dry winters. Discovered in the fall of 2013, the warm anomaly is roughly 1,000 miles wide and about 300 feet deep, and according to Bond, is about 3°C (5°F) warmer than is typical for that area of the Pacific ocean. When viewed on a map showing ocean water temperatures, “the great circular mass does indeed look like a blob.”


In the second study, headed by Dennis Hartmann, they found that the “warming waters of the northeast Pacific are tied to an anomaly in water temperatures thousands of miles away, roughly where the International Date Line and the equator intersect in the Tropics.” Surface waters in this location are much warmer than normal and are heating the air above them, which eventually reaches the West Coast. Hartmann likens it to “throwing a rock into a pond…the wave eventually makes its way to the other side.”

And while the warm waters create a unyielding high pressure system off the West Coast, they cause “cold, wet, low-pressure air in the central and eastern U.S., leading to heavy snowfall and bitterly cold winters.” According to the historical record, unusual ocean warming in the Tropics has occurred before, and Hartmann admits, “it could be just another natural variation in ocean and atmosphere temperatures, similar to the El Niño-La Niña cycle.

According to Joe Bastardi, at WeatherBELL, the warm water produce a ridge which blocks the Pacific storms from reaching California and funnels cold air to the east, creating extreme weather patterns on the East Coast of the US.

An interesting discussion in the later part of the article examines the theory that geo-thermal vents are causing the warm blobs of ocean water in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. I think that more data is required, before we accept this theory.

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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