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New NASA visualization shows what the dreaded polar vortex really looks like



NASA / JPL-Caltech AIRS Project
GIF: NASA / JPL-Caltech AIRS Project

It was cold in the continental US this week . Colder than Alaska, Mars (technically) and even parts of the Antarctic, which is not so surprising because Antarctica is currently summer, but it sounds wild. You probably want to forget the cold – but we will not allow it.

A new gif of the NASA's atmospheric infrared sounder (AIRS) on the Aqua Satellite visually demonstrates the dramatic and deadly cold snap that demonstrates the temperature cut forty below zero. The GIF demonstrates the phenomena responsible for the temperatures that most of the United States is facing this week, termed polar eddies.

The polar vortex can refer to one of the stacked pairs of air masses: one in the deepest part of the Earth's atmosphere or troposphere and another in the stratosphere, both turning counterclockwise. The lower vertebra is a rotating low-pressure air massage that exists throughout the year, and the upper one is present in winter, according to the latest release.

The jet stream is a wind band that defines the boundary between the polar vortex of the troposphere and the warmer impacts south of it ̵

1; the shape of the polar vortex. With warm air pushing north, it can push some of that Arctic air south and create the incredible cold temperatures we've seen this week. The stratospheric polar vortex is usually tighter and narrower around the poles – we do not treat that much. However, if it is interrupted or weakened, it can have a slight impact on the troposphere and help precipitate cold spells. However, the relationship is not direct, according to the newspaper.

Since the behavior of the polar vortex mainly relates to how the heat flows in the atmosphere, you may be wondering if climate change has anything to do with it. Scientists have suggested that a decrease in sea ice and less snow in the Arctic as a result of human warming has led to a weakening of the stratospheric vortex, or that the jet stream defining the edge of the tropospheric polar vortex is widening further south leads to more cold air outbreaks in middle latitudes. All this is still up for debate.

The AIRS map shows only the temperatures and not the air masses themselves. But it should give you an idea of ​​this process in action, as well as the intense science required to understand these strange natural events.

[via NASA/JPL]


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