Polar Vortex Is Coming And Shifting, Could Lead To Colder Temperatures, Longer Winter

First Posted: Nov 26, 2016 03:50 AM EST

A new study indicates that the polar vortex is shifting. This means that it could lead to colder temperatures particularly on the east coast of the U.S. and parts of Europe. Winter on the said areas will be longer, and cold temperatures are expected in March.

A polar vortex is a large low-pressure zone that lies near the Earth's pole with two polar vortices, namely, the North and South Poles. Each polar vortex rotates counter-clockwise at the North Pole (called a cyclone) and clockwise at the South Pole. A polar vortex bolsters in the winter and weakens in the summer. This is because the polar vortex depends on the temperature difference between the equator and the poles.

In the study published in the Natural Climate Change last week, it showed that the polar vortex is shifting and temperatures are turning colder during March because of sea-ice loss in the Arctic. It is known that there are two different polar vortexes. The first is the stratospheric polar vortex, which is about 65,000 feet above the Earth's surface. The second polar vortex is the tropospheric polar vortex, which is about 18,000 to 30,000 feet up.

The researchers found that the stratospheric polar vortex has altered position while weakening for more than the past three decades. Thus, there will be colder air into parts of Eurasia and North America, especially in late winter and early spring.

The study also suggests that the cooler March temperatures could counteract climate warming from rising greenhouse gasses. The shifting of the vortex is also associated with a decline in sea-ice in the Arctic particularly over the Barents-Kara seas, according to The Washington Post.

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