British Columbia

Pacific Ocean 'Blob' finally starting to dissipate

After three years of wreaking havoc on weather patterns, fish populations and even this winter's El Niño, a University of Victoria scientist believes the so-called 'Blob' of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is finally on its way out.

Patch of warm water 1,000 km long has affected weather, fish, even this winter's El Nino

A University of Victoria oceanographer believes the "Blob" will be gone by the end of winter. (NOAA)

A University of Victoria oceanographer says the "blob" of warm water in the Pacific Ocean is starting to break up due to strong winds and ocean currents.

Richard Dewey says cold winds blowing from Alaska, which have been missing over the past few years, are causing the blob to finally clear up.

"Certainly the surface signature of the blob has dissipated from our satellite imagery," Dewey told On The Island host Gregor Craigie. "We're still collecting data from below the surface; it's possible that there's still some remnants of the warm water down maybe at 100 metres or so, but we expect that probably won't last through the winter."

The 1,000-kilometre-wide patch of water, 2° C warmer than the surrounding ocean, has been blamed for warmer temperatures on land, changing up this year's El Niño and even bringing tropical fish north since appearing in 2013.

The blob has also stopped or slowed nutrient growth, damaging salmon populations.

Dewey believes that local ecosystems impacted by the blob should rebound from its effects, but it might take two or three years for salmon runs to return to their pre-blob health.

"We sort of have to wait as health travels through the food chain," he said. "We're hoping that these nutrients that get mixed up through the surface waters will be there for the phytoplankton in the spring … and then the zooplankton will pick up on that in April and May, and then the bait fish in April and June."

"And so by the time the next run of salmon get out there, there should be better food out there in the Pacific by next summer."

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Bye-bye 'Blob:' scientist says warm water patch finally clearing up