(CBS SF) – A large pool of warm water off the Pacific Coast may be exacerbating California’s already severe drought. Climate scientist Nick Bond of the University of Washington said the pool of water, which he calls “the blob,” is about 2-7 degrees warmer than normal.
“In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen it for that time of year,” Bond said in a university statement.
The blob continues to persist, stretching from Alaska to Mexico and 1,000 miles offshore.
Researchers said the blob was caused by a persistent high-pressure ridge that caused the ocean to be calmer over the past two winters.
Bond and his team said the blob is contributing to California’s drought. According to researchers, as air passes over the warmer water, it brings more heat and less snow.
On Thursday, state officials in Sacramento warned the drought affecting the Golden State could be similar to one that affected Australia for a decade. The state is also looking at shaming local water agencies that have let water wasters slide.
Researchers said the blob could also contribute to record snow and cold in the Eastern U.S. and a disruption to ocean ecosystems.
The climate scientist said the blob does not seem to be caused by climate change, but said it is a “taste of what the ocean will be like in future decades.”
Bond said the pool of warmer water will remain off the West Coast through the end of the year.