Polar Vortex Is ‘Spinning Backwards’ Above Arctic After Major Reversal Event

The Polar vortex ‘spinning backward’ above the Arctic after a major reversal event triggers atmospheric upheaval, including an ozone spike, due to sudden stratospheric warming, impacting global weather patterns.

Polar Vortex Is 'Spinning Backwards' Above Arctic After Major Reversal Event 1

Polar vortex reversal event causes atmospheric upheaval, including ozone spike, due to sudden stratospheric warming, potentially impacting global weather patterns.

Following a significant reversal event earlier this month caused by an unexpected warming in the upper atmosphere, the polar vortex encircling the Arctic is now spinning oppositely. One of the most dramatic atmospheric U-turns in recent memory has occurred.

According to research published in the journal Nature by Professors Geoff Duller and Charles Bristow of Birkbeck University in London, Morocco’s Lala Lallia dune dates back to 13,000 years.

Extremely cold temperatures and storms have previously been brought on by disturbances to the polar vortex, a revolving mass of frigid air that rounds the Arctic across a huge portion of the United States.

This latest shift in the vortex’s path is probably not going to cause another “big freeze.” However, the abrupt change has resulted in an unprecedented “ozone spike” over the North Pole.

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The stratosphere, or second layer of the atmosphere, is where the polar vortex is most noticeable in the winter and reaches up to 30 miles (50 km) above the ground. The U.K. Met Office reports that the vortex rotates counterclockwise at wind speeds of about 155 mph (250 km/h), or roughly the same speed as a Category 5 hurricane. During the southern winter, Antarctica is likewise surrounded by a comparable vortex.

Periodically, polar vortices temporarily reverse. According to the Met Office, sudden stratospheric warming (SSW), which occurs when temperatures in the stratosphere rise by as much as 90 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius) in a few days, is the source of these phenomena, which can linger for days, weeks, or months.

Polar Vortex Is 'Spinning Backwards' Above Arctic After Major Reversal Event 2
Changes to the polar vortex influence the jet stream, which can in turn impact weather across the Northern Hemisphere.  (Image credit: NOAA Climate.gov graphic)

The compression waves in the atmosphere known as “planetary waves” are what are responsible for the abrupt warming. These waves are created as air rises into an area with a different density and is then forced back down by the force of Earth’s spin. The vortex flow is interrupted or reversed by this procedure.

March 4 marked the start of the current Arctic reversal event. But the winds are beginning to weaken, suggesting that the vortex will soon resume its regular course, according to Spaceweather.com.

According to Amy Butler, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the writer of the organization’s recently launched polar vortex blog, “it was a substantial reversal,” Spaceweather.com reported. She went on, “The event ranks in the top six on record due to the speed of the reversed winds.”

Weather in the United States can be affected by disturbances to the polar vortex, as was the case in 2019 when a strong cold front moved through the Midwest. Large blobs of freezing Arctic air are exposed to lower latitudes because of the deformation of the jet stream, an air current that surrounds the polar vortex, resulting in these extreme weather phenomena.

According to Spaceweather.com, the disruption this month did not alter the jet stream’s structure, thus weather patterns should remain mostly the same.

The opposite of an ozone hole, a brief ozone spike has been created by the significant amount of ozone that has been drawn from lower latitudes due to the shift in air temperature surrounding the Arctic. According to Spaceweather.com, there is more ozone encircling the Arctic right now than there has been at any previous moment in history. Nevertheless, after the polar vortex returns to normal, this ozone increase will vanish.

Butler noted in NOAA’s polar vortex blog that the current reversal is the second of its sort this year, after a lesser episode in January that did result in a brief cold snap in several regions.

SSW events are more likely to happen during El Niño or La Niña, the two opposing stages of a natural cycle of global warming and cooling, according to historical records. Butler stated in the NOAA blog that these phases cause global weather systems to become more unstable, which creates the conditions for more frequent reversal episodes.

Major El Niño is presently underway, which may increase the likelihood of future reversals or disruptions during the next year or two.

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1 COMMENT

  1. Polar vortex spinning backwards!?
    Well, what can you expect in this insane “Alice in Wonderland” Clown World!
    Maybe old Poley wants to cut off his penis and become a Holey! 😉

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