Science Pub Covers ‘The Warm Blob’

science pubRemember old horror films featuring oversized amoeba-like creatures eating people? Often, these giant, slimy substances were called “The Blob.” Well, while it may not be quite the man-eating horror we expect, as it turns out, there is a real-life Blob among us, and the thing’s just as scary.

In the spring of 2014, the Warm Blob, as it is called by oceanographers, appeared in the Northwest Pacific Ocean. The Blob is a body of water whose temperature is several degrees warmer than the surrounding ocean.

A year after the Blob appeared, one of the biggest El Niño events ever recorded—producing abnormal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean and in turn affecting global weather patterns—started to form at the equator. The Blob and the El Niño effect have had huge impacts on the Earth, including many changes observed in marine ecosystems from Alaska to Mexico.

These two phenomena and their effects on life in the Pacific Northwest will be the topic presented at the March 14
Science Pub. Presenting will be Laurie Weitkamp, a research fisheries biologist for NOAA at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center based in Newport. Weitkamp received her master’s and PhD from the University of Washington and her studies include the ecology of salmon in estuarine and marine environments. She is particularly interested in how physical conditions influence biological processes important for the survival of salmon. She also records the impacts of unusual conditions in the Northwest Pacific on cod-water marine ecosystems.

Science Pub is free and open to the public. The presentation begins at 6 p.m. at the Old World Deli in Corvallis on March 14

By Kyra Blank

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