Alaska News

Ocean science group starts blog devoted to warm-water blob

You could call it the Blob Blog.

There has been so much curiosity about the large mass of warm water that has persisted in the North Pacific Ocean over the past two years that one Alaska science organization has created an online clearinghouse to help answer public questions about the subject.

The mass of warm water -- nicknamed "The Blob" -- is affecting weather and marine life, and the Alaska Ocean Observing System has been getting so many queries about it that creation of a one-stop portal for information seemed a good response, one official said.

The Alaska "Blob" Tracker was put together at the end of July, said Carol Janzen, director of operations and development at AOOS, the Alaska branch of a national science network, the Integrated Ocean Observing System.

"We just get a lot of inquires about its persistence and whether it's still around and its influence on marine environments and the weather," Janzen said.

The site collects news stories and academic studies about the phenomenon, including information from Nick Bond, the University of Washington research meteorologist who coined the "Blob" nickname. There is a link to a scientific meeting held in May, including a webcast of the proceedings, and other published or broadcast stories about effects of the Blob from California to Alaska.

There is also localized information in the form of a report from Cordova about the unusual sighting of a tropical ocean sunfish in Prince William Sound. "This is not the first time that sunfish have been seen in the Gulf of Alaska, but they're not very common," said Janzen, who wrote the blog piece based on a sighting by Scott Pegau of the Oil Spill Recovery Institute in Cordova.

A sunfish was spotted last year in Prince William Sound as well, and a skipjack tuna was also netted nearby.

Yereth Rosen

Yereth Rosen was a reporter for Alaska Dispatch News.