Scientists identify weather event behind extreme cold in Europe and Asia during February 2018 | 1/29/2019 | Staff
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Researchers have identified a weather event that caused an unusually extreme cold wave to hit Europe and Asia during the winter of 2018, which could help atmospheric scientists better predict similar events in the future, according to a new study.

A wave of extremely cold air hit Eurasia in late February 2018, lasting for a month while temperatures broke record lows across Europe. The extreme cold came from a splitting of a cluster of air high above the Arctic, called the polar vortex.

Weather - Forecast - Models - Warming - Start

Weather forecast models didn't anticipate the stratospheric warming in 2018 until the start of February—only 12 days before it happened—which prevented the models from anticipating the extreme cold that followed.

Now, a new study in AGU's Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres finds a cyclone-induced chain of events warmed the stratosphere and caused the Arctic polar vortex to split in two, causing the extreme cold.

Information - Forecasts - Warmings - Future - Cold

The information could help weather forecasts detect stratospheric warmings earlier and anticipate future cold waves, according to the study's authors.

The stratosphere is the second layer of Earth's atmosphere. It is typically cool, arid, and home to the Arctic polar vortex, a body of circulating cold air around Earth's North Pole. If the stratosphere warms, the polar vortex weakens and splits in two, which can cause outbreaks of cold weather across the Northern Hemisphere.

Events - Stratosphere - Research - Troposphere—the - Layer

To predict sudden warming events in the stratosphere, past research mostly studied how the troposphere—the lowest layer of the atmosphere and where Earth's weather occurs—behaved on average prior to events in the stratosphere. But these models did not always catch how temporary weather patterns in the troposphere influenced the stratosphere.

In the new study, researchers tested their hypothesis that a chain of events in the troposphere caused the sudden stratospheric warming and subsequent splitting of the polar...
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