How are Ocean Conditions Changing?
"Beginning in late 2013, a bewildering patch of warm water formed in the Gulf of Alaska. A stubborn atmospheric high-pressure system, nicknamed the “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge,” was keeping storms at bay. Just as blowing across hot coffee frees heat, winds usually churn and cool the sea’s surface. Instead, heat within this shifting mass, which University of Washington climatologist Nick Bond dubbed “the blob,” built up and morphed into a wider patch along North America’s West Coast, where it met warm-water masses creeping north. Sea temperatures in some places rose seven degrees Fahrenheit higher than average. Some patches of ocean were hotter than ever recorded. At its peak the warm water covered about 3.5 million square miles from Mexico to Alaska, an area larger than the contiguous United States." (Map graphic and quote credit: The Blob that Cooked the Pacific, 2016, National Geographic)
The West Coast Ocean Partnership, a group of state, tribal, and federal entities, has identified Changing Ocean Conditions as a regional priority area for coordination and action. Responding to changing ocean conditions will require leadership at a regional level, as the drivers of change are occurring at the scale of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. This story map is designed to highlight the challenges that we face, the needs we have for coordination, analysis, and response at the regional level, and the roles that the West Coast Integrated Ocean Observing Systems and West Coast Ocean Data Portal have in those efforts.