• Tue. May 21st, 2024

Scientists Surprised as Earth’s Polar Vortex Reverses Direction

BySamantha Johnson

Apr 6, 2024
Scientists Surprised as Earth’s Polar Vortex Reverses Direction

Scientists were surprised to observe a change in the direction of the Arctic’s polar vortex earlier this month. This unexpected shift, which occurred around March 4, is considered one of the six strongest events of its kind since 1979, according to climate scientist Amy Butler from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as reported by Spaceweather.

The stratospheric polar vortex is a large spinning mass of freezing cold air that forms high up in the atmosphere near the North Pole. It is maintained by a powerful wind current that circulates around the polar region from west to east, with the strongest presence during winter. These winds can reach speeds of about 155 miles per hour, similar to the minimum wind speed for a Category 5 hurricane, and are often referred to as the polar night jet.

The recent change in the direction of the polar vortex was attributed to “Sudden Stratospheric Warming events,” which caused an influx of ozone from lower latitudes around the Arctic. This increase in temperature led to the unexpected reversal of the polar vortex’s rotation. The reported spike in ozone levels is the largest observed in March since 1979.

While the polar vortex is typically associated with extreme cold and storms in various regions, no such severe weather patterns have occurred as a result of the recent change in direction. Amy Butler noted that despite the significant shift in the polar vortex’s rotation, there have been no reports of extreme weather events, as stated on NOAA’s new polar vortex blog.

By Samantha Johnson

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