Scientists suspect a “Blue Blob” could be halting glacial melting in Iceland

A mysterious region of cooling water, dubbed the “Blue Blob”, has been hypothesised to be halting glacial melting in Iceland.

In the North Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Iceland, a region of cooling water, dubbed the “Blue Blob”, has been hypothesised to be halting glacial melting. It may continue to slow down ice loss until 2050. 

While the origins of the “Blue Blob” remain a mystery, researchers in Iceland and Greenland have observed the notable cold spot in the region’s glaciers since 2011. It carries the power to curb glacial melting, and particularly peaked in the cold winters of 2014 and 2015, according to a recent study.

The Blue Blob will continue until 2050

The use of new models and observation from location findings show that the patches continue to keep the air cold in Iceland, with predictions by scientists that the phenomena will continue until about 2050. This date occurs frequently in research from climate change activists and scientists alike, cited by the New York Times, as the time frame for a complete polar meltdown and a need to reduce carbon emissions. 

The Blue Blob’s influence on Iceland’s glaciers is significant. Scientists predict that local North Atlantic cooling – not only limited to Iceland – will continue mitigating the Icelandic glacier’s mass loss until the mid-2050s, when it will begin accelerating again if there is no further cooling in these waters. The same processes may occur in other parts of the world where cooling has a large effect on carbon emissions.

Direct air capture (DAC) is helping to reduce temperatures

Iceland is at the forefront of a new process – Direct Air Capture (DAC), home to one of the largest facilities of its kind. The mechanism helps to pull thousands of tons of carbon emissions out of the air, which has a direct correlation to the warming atmosphere fought by “Blobs” in the same region. DAC involves removing CO2 directly from the air and storing it in geological formations underground. Though some critics suggest that this could cause more problems, Iceland hopes that DAC will be able to complement its efforts to reduce carbon emissions through coal-fired power plants and other initiatives aimed at reducing its carbon footprint. In this case, the Blue Blobs supplement this fight for cooling.

Direct air capture machines suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Time is imminent to keep temperatures cool

Noël warned that the data makes it plain that no matter what, the ice is melting, and that efforts to keep the area cool have to continue to act now in order to keep warming at bay. An article from The Guardian perpetuates the warnings of how warm the artic has become in such a short amount of time, correlating the ice loss with major weather events happening in North America. In order to conclude about the Blob, a team of researchers alongside Noël in Iceland measured sizes of glacier balance over time, finding that temperatures lowered in waters closer to the Blob. A known anomaly, much like the northern lights in Iceland, the cold ocean phenomena from the Blob enforces sea surface temperature (SST) relationships. While the Blob fails to possess the colorful draw that comes with the northern lights, its Blue presence serves as another call to action for preservation of the glaciers – before they become another casualty of global warming. 

Along the same vein of relationships from sea to air, another phenomenon titled the “Atlantic Warming Hole” may also add to the cooling of the region by lowering sea temperatures. These natural occurrences are aiding Iceland in preserving its glaciers, but according to Noël’s research, the oceans could be able to stay cool without these isolated occurrences, with hope that the melting could come to a halt in the middle of the 2050s.

Other scientists have suggested that the Blue Blob is a normal occurrence, chalking the changes in cooling levels to natural variances of the Arctic. In correlation, record cooling did occur in North America between 2014 and 2015, breaking temperature records at the time, as noted by NASA. The argument here is that the colder waters, at an all time low, caused deep-set icy waters to surface despite oceanic highs due to global warming, which cooled surface level temprature. At a temperature paradox, the lows seem to have an effect despite the global warming, and that is present in the Blue Blob. 

The research about glacier melting activities has an impact far beyond Iceland. Global warming continues to be a real and present obstacle, and every piece in the fight to keep ocean levels from rising can manifest in the smallest of studies.