Two types of warm blobs in the Northeast Pacific and their potential effect on the El Niño

Ziyan Chen Jian Shi, and Chun Li
First published: 29 December 2020

This article has been accepted for publication and undergone full peer review but has not been through the copyediting, typesetting, pagination and proofreading process, which may lead to differences between this version and the Version of Record.

Please cite this article as doi: 10.1002/joc.6991


“In recent years, the predominant marine heatwaves in Northeast Pacific, the so‐called warm blobs, have exerted substantial environmental and socioeconomic influences on North America and its coastal waters. We select the historical warm blob events from 1951 to 2018 and divide them into double‐peak and single‐peak categories by their seasonal evolutions. The heat budget analyses attribute the leading contributor of double‐peak warm blobs to the surface heat flux at the first wintertime maximum while the vertical entrainment and diffusion take responsibility for the second peak 5 months later.

“The positive net heat flux anomalies indicate less heat loss from ocean to the atmosphere due to an exceptionally anomalous high as the northern lobe of the North Pacific Oscillation and intensive easterly anomalies, which counteract with the climatological westerlies. For the single‐peak category, the vertical entrainment and diffusion primarily trigger the warm blob and also lead to its termination. Moreover, the single‐peak warm blob induces positive sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies near the Baja California and establishes the Pacific Meridional Mode as the oceanic bridge to convey its influence onto the tropics and trigger the following El Niño around 10 months after the peak. In addition, the subsurface processes, such as the trade wind charging mechanism, also play an essential part by bringing warmer water upwards to the surface and hence cause the positive SST anomalies in equatorial central‐eastern Pacific. However, the interim connection between the double‐peak warm blob and El Niño is not very clear although their intensities appear to be stronger…”

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