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Wednesday, 02 April 2014 03:25




Polar Vortex


• One of several semi-permanent weather systems over the Earth, the polar vortex is an area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere, primarily in the stratosphere, the layer of the atmosphere above which most of our sensible weather occurs (known as the troposphere).

• The polar vortex is circulation of strong, upper-level winds that normally surround the northern pole in a counterclockwise direction -- a polar low-pressure system.  These winds tend to keep the bitter cold air locked in the Arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

• When the vortex weakens, the air starts heading southwards, bringing exceptional snow and chill to middle latitudes. The weather shift is also helped by changes in a high altitude wind called the jet stream. This convection, which usually encircles the northern hemisphere in a robust and predictable fashion, starts to zigzag, creating loops of extremely cold weather or unseasonably mild weather, depending on the location.

• The difference in temperature between the Arctic and mid latitudes is the main driver for the polar vortex.

• The polar vortex mainly centers in two areas: near Canada’s Baffin Island, and over northeast Siberia. There is a Southern Hemispheric version of the polar vortex, as well, within which depletion of the upper-atmospheric ozone layer occurs.







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Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 April 2014 06:33