Over the past few years, climate change has hit the Arctic heavily and now, a new study shows that the polar vortex is shifting, and more rigorous and longer winters are to be expected in the east coast of US and parts of Europe.
But just what is this Polar Vortex? The polar vortex is where the polar cold wind is located, and sometimes, it broke apart and we get affected by it, by experiencing periods of extreme cold. Now there are actually two polar vortices, the stratospheric polar vortex, which is located at about 19 800 meters above Earth’s surface, and the tropospheric polar vortex that is around 5 500 and 9 100 meters above it.
Normally, when we hear about them in the weather news, they are referring to the tropospheric one, which is responsible of the occasional cold fronts we experience. What this new study is analyzing, is the stratospheric polar vortex, which can have bigger, yet more subtle effect on weather.
After analyzing the satellite data of over three decades, the team observed that the stratospheric polar vortex has been moving towards Europe and Asia, and getting weaker. We know this might seem great news, but they aren’t, because as it weakens, it becomes more susceptible of breaking, and therefore, may affect the less cold seasons.
Although the weakening of the vortex isn’t new, the fact that is moving to Eurasia Continent is new, and can cause the US East Coast to get even colder. This vortex change, is also responsible for the shrinking of the ice coverage in the Arctic and the increase in snow in the old continent. The scientists know the shifting is due to the ice shrinking, but they don’t know exactly why.
Unfortunately, the scientists will have a good opportunity of studying why, since with the increase of the temperature to 20 degrees Celsius in the North Pole the Ice Sheets will have a hard time freezing up.