Scientists to Analyze "the Blob" at Scripps Oceanography Workshop


A workshop on an unusually warm pool of North Pacific Ocean water and associated conditions will take place May 5 and 6 at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego.

Participants in the 2014-2015 Pacific Anomalies Science and Technology Workshop will include federal, non-federal, state and local scientists and coastal managers as well as researchers from Canada and Mexico. Members of the media are invited to attend the event, which takes place at the Robert Paine Scripps Forum for Science, Society, and the Environment (Scripps Seaside Forum) on the Scripps Oceanography campus (8610 Kennel Way, La Jolla, CA 92037).  The workshop will be held over two days, on May 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and May 6 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Unusual ocean weather and climate patterns have been observed throughout 2014 and early 2015 across the North Pacific basin. An area of the North Pacific has been as much as 5°C (9° F) warmer than average, earning it the nickname “the blob.”

This workshop is the first in a two-part series. The first workshop will focus on the “what” and characterize the anomalous conditions being observed.  The second workshop will focus on the “why,” trying to determine the cause of these conditions.

Scientists have seen evidence that the unusually warm temperatures are affecting weather and climate patterns as well as open ocean ecosystems and fisheries. From the workshop, organizers hope to develop a series of research and development questions and issues related to these anomalies. In the follow-up workshop, participants will aim to improve scientists’ understanding of how these significant oceanographic variations arose, their impacts on water, weather, and economic well-being, and ways in which scientists can potentially improve predictive capabilities.

Discussion topics will include:

  • Observing changes in physical and biogeochemical (such as hypoxia, ocean acidification) variables in the North Central and Eastern Pacific Ocean
  • Impacts on fisheries and other ecosystems (such as plankton and seabirds)
  • Variations in ocean and atmospheric conditions (coastal sea level, currents, temperature, salinity, winds, mixing)
  • Large-scale climate, ocean, and atmospheric processes and their relation to physical and biogeochemical variations
  • Structure of the California Current System and its interaction with the larger North Pacific system
  • Atmospheric and ocean processes that may translate warming signals between the open ocean and coastal regions
  • Connection of the observed responses to climate processes, such as the El Niño Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • The abilities of global and regional models to detect ocean variations seen in observations

The outcome of the first workshop will be an abstract volume, a recommended framework to enable increased collaboration opportunities, and summaries of observed ocean and atmospheric anomalies and impacts that can be used to communicate to researchers, stakeholders, and the media. Both workshops will provide a forum in which various researchers and monitors focused on these anomalies can share observations and analysis, creating a community-wide effort to understand, address, and predict these and future anomalies.

This collective effort will propose a special Pacific Ocean Anomalies session at the 2016 Ocean Sciences Meeting held by the American Geophysical Union plus additional stakeholder discussions, publications, and presentations. The Pacific Anomalies Workshops will also help provide information to the public, marine scientists, coastal and marine resource managers and decision-makers working in marine health and climate-related fields, and economic sectors affected by the ocean.  

Sponsors and organizers of the workshop represent the Integrated Ocean Observing System’s five Pacific Ocean Observing Systems (including the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System), the NOAA Ocean Climate Program (including the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program), Sea Grant, and Scripps Oceanography.  

Please visit for more details.

Members of the media are asked to RSVP at or (858) 534-3624.

Sign Up For
Explorations Now

explorations now is the free award-winning digital science magazine from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Join subscribers from around the world and keep up on our cutting-edge research.