2014 was a year of unusual events in many respects. Some highlights discussed in the report include:
• The “Blob” of warmer than usual water in the NE Pacific Ocean formed two winters ago because of highly unusual wind and weather patterns. This patch of water entered Puget Sound in 2014, resulting in the highest water temperatures observed in the Sound in 16 years. Warmer than usual waters persisted in the Sound this summer. Some scientists, including PBI's researchers, are concerned that the Blob may be an early warning signal of the harmful effects of global warming.
• Blooms of harmful algae that can cause paralytic shellfish poisoning occurred for the first time in Hood Canal in the fall of 2014 and resurfaced and expanded this spring and summer. As global warming accelerates, this may become much more common.
• Harbor porpoise were historically common in Puget Sound, but had almost completely disappeared by the 1960s and remained absent through the 1990s. Since the early 2000s, the harbor porpoise population appears to have recovered to some extent in Puget Sound. PBI's long-term investigation of the porpoise is focused on determining if this trend is continuing or if other marine ecosystem health factors are limiting its recovery.
• Puget Sound air temperatures were much warmer than normal in 2014, ranking as the second warmest year since records began in 1895. Again, this is an indication of our dramatically changing climate.