It’s likely you’ve experienced — or at least heard of — a heat wave on land: those prolonged periods when temperatures are unusually high.
It’s likely you’ve experienced — or at least heard of — a heat wave on land: those prolonged periods when temperatures are unusually high. But in recent years, marine scientists have been turning their sights on another kind of heat wave — one that occurs in the ocean.
From 2014 to 2016, the ocean waters off the West Coast were hit with hotter-than-usual temperatures in a marine heat wave that came to be known as “the Blob.” This stretch of warm water had big impacts on the West Coast marine environment and economy, and stands as the largest marine heat wave since NOAA satellites started keeping track in 1981. Now, three years after the last Blob, another marine heat wave has surfaced off the West Coast, and scientists say it’s the second-largest one they’ve seen.
NOAA Research sat down with Nick Bond, Washington state climatologist and a scientist with the University of Washington's Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean (a NOAA cooperative institute), to learn more about marine heat waves.
Different folks have used different thresholds, but basically it is the ocean’s equivalent to what a heat wave in the weather is, which is very unusual temperatures that make a difference in the marine ecosystem.
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Image via NOAA.