The polar vortex split apart. Here’s what to expect.

Popular Science | 1/11/2019 | Staff
baileyboo (Posted by) Level 3
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This year, the sudden stratospheric warming happened over Siberia in early December and pushed the polar vortex apart into two pieces—or maybe three, depending who you ask (it’s hard to clearly define, since the boundaries are fuzzy) . This created an area of high pressure in the Arctic, a phenomenon called high latitude blocking. “These are the events that disrupt the Arctic Circle, pushing all the cold air out of the Arctic Circle into the mid latitudes where we live,” says Ventrice.

In his research, Seviour found that splits of the vortex, as opposed to southward shifts, tend to have a greater effect on weather.

Ventrice - Warming - Siberia - Lag - Days

Ventrice explains that because the warming started over Siberia, there will be a lag of 20 to 40 days before any weather effects are felt (the reason why this lag happens is unclear, but it may have to do with distance and sea surface water temperatures). In contrast, last year—which also saw a split polar vortex—the warming started over the North Atlantic ocean in early February, and the effects were felt much sooner. Recall the stories of the “Beast from the East” that hit Europe last year, in which 95 people died of weather-related causes.

“By the end of January, we might actually start to see [weather] effects,” says Amy Butler, an atmospheric scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences in Boulder, Colorado. This potential shift to chillier weather could last as long as six weeks, she added.

Climate - Change - Arctic - Disruptions - Lack

Some have speculated that climate change in the Arctic could make these vortex disruptions more common, thinking a lack of sea ice could weaken the polar...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Science
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