A Sober Look At The Northern Polar Vortex

Image Credit NASA – Polar Vortex on Venus

WUWT Regular “Just The Facts”

Currently there is a lot of media hype about the Polar Vortex over North America, but little in the way of coherent explanation as to what a Polar Vortex is and how it affects Earth’s temperature. As such, a Polar Vortex is “caused when an area of low pressure sits at the rotation pole of a planet. This causes air to spiral down from higher in the atmosphere, like water going down a drain.” Universe Today “A polar vortex is a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near one or both of a planet’s geographical poles.” “The vortex is most powerful in the hemisphere’s winter, when the temperature gradient is steepest, and diminishes or can disappear in the summer.” Wikipedia In addition to those on Earth, Polar Vortices also have been sighted on Venus, Mars, Jupiter , Saturn and Saturn’s Moon Titan.

“Long-term vortices are a frequent phenomenon in the atmospheres of fast rotating planets, like Jupiter and Saturn, for example. Venus rotates slowly, yet it has permanent vortices in its atmosphere at both poles. What is more, the rotation speed of the atmosphere is much greater than that of the planet. “We’ve known for a long time that the atmosphere of Venus rotates 60 times faster than the planet itself, but we didn’t know why. The difference is huge; that is why it’s called super-rotation. And we’ve no idea how it started or how it keeps going.

The permanence of the Venus vortices contrasts with the case of the Earth. “On the Earth there are seasonal effects and temperature differences between the continental zones and the oceans that create suitable conditions for the formation and dispersal of polar vortices. On Venus there are no oceans or seasons, and so the polar atmosphere behaves very differently,” says Garate-Lopez.” Phys.org

So with that background, let’s take a look at the Polar Vortex currently over North America. Starting at 10 hPa/mb – Approximately 31,000 meters (101,700 feet) here we have a Height Analysis showing the low pressure area;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

a Temperature Analysis showing the cold area;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Zonal Mean Temperatures showing the cold area from a global perspective;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

a wide perspective Wind Animation and more focused Wind Animation showing the motion of the Vortex,

and Ozone Mixing Ratio map showing the “Ozone Hole” within it:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Now we are going to travel down the Polar Vortex in several steps, so here’s another Height Analysis showing the low pressure area at 30 hPa/mb – Approximately 23,700 meters (77,800 feet);

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

a Temperature Analysis showing the cold area;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Zonal Mean Temperatures showing the cold area from a global perspective;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and Ozone Mixing Ratio map showing the “Ozone Hole” within the Vortex:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Here’s  a Height Analysis showing the low pressure area at 70 hPa/mb – Approximately 18,000 meters (59,000 feet);

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

a Temperature Analysis showing the cold area;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Zonal Mean Temperatures showing the cold area from a global perspective;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

a wide perspective Wind Animation and more focused Wind Animation showing the motion of the Vortex,;

and Ozone Mixing Ratio map showing a slight “Ozone Hole” within it:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

And here’s here we have a Height Analysis showing the low pressure area at 100 hPa/mb – Approximately 15,000 meters (49,000 feet);

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

a Temperature Analysis showing the cold area;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Zonal Mean Temperatures showing the cold area from a global perspective;

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

and Ozone Mixing Ratio map showing a slight “Ozone Hole” within the Vortex:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

Per this Northern Hemisphere – Vertical Cross Section of Geopotential Height Anomalies you can see that the Polar Vortex currently extends to approximately 100 hPa/mb:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

also reflected in this Northern Hemisphere – Area Where Temperature is Below 195K or -78C:

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

So why is it so cold in North America right now? Per Global – 10-hPa/mb Height Temperature Anomalies – Atmospheric Temperature Anomalies At Approximately 31,000 meters (101,700 feet);

NOAA – National Weather Service – Climate Prediction Center – Click the pic to view at source

it appears that that we are having an [Upper Stratosphere Lower Mesosphere (USLM) Disturbance] that could lead to a Sudden Stratospheric Warming growing over East Asia, i.e. “the breakdown of the polar vortex is an extreme event known as a sudden stratospheric warming, here the vortex completely breaks down and an associated warming of 30-50 degrees Celsius over a few days can occur. The Arctic vortex is elongated in shape, with two centres, one roughly over Baffin Island in Canada and the other over northeast Siberia. In rare events, the vortex can push further south as a result of axis interruption, see January 1985 Arctic outbreak.” Wikipedia ”The January 1985 Arctic outbreak was a meteorological event, the result of the shifting of the polar vortex further south than is normally seen. Blocked from its normal movement, polar air from the north pushed into nearly every section of the eastern half of the United States, shattering record lows in a number of states.” Wikipedia This BBC Article and Video are helpful in understanding Sudden Stratospheric Warmings. (Note that the text within the [brackets] above has been added and the struck-through removed to correct the article based upon learnings from this comment and this comment below.)

In terms of claims that “US polar vortex may be example of global warming” Guardian and “Polar Vortex: Climate Change Could Be the Cause of Record Cold Weather” Time, these appear to be unsupported conjecture as:

“Many atmospheric general circulation models (GCMs) and chemistry–climate models (CCMs) are not able to reproduce the observed polar stratospheric winds in simulations of the late 20th century. Specifically, the polar vortices break down too late and peak wind speeds are higher than in the ERA-40 reanalysis. Insufficient planetary wave driving during the October–November period delays the breakup of the southern hemisphere (SH) polar vortex in versions 1 (V1) and 2 (V2) of the Goddard Earth Observing System (GEOS) chemistry–climate model, and is likely the cause of the delayed breakup in other CCMs with similarly weak October-November wave driving.”

“In the V1 model, the delayed breakup of the Antarctic vortex biases temperature, circulation and trace gas concentrations in the polar stratosphere in spring. The V2 model behaves similarly (despite major model upgrades from V1), though the magnitudes of the anomalous effects on springtime dynamics are smaller.”

“Clearly, if CCMs cannot duplicate the observed response of the polar stratosphere to late 20th century climate forcings, their ability to simulate the polar vortices in future may be poor.”

Assessment and Consequences of the Delayed Breakup of the Antarctic Polar Vortex in Chemistry-Climate Models Hurwitz et al., 2009

“It is unclear how much confidence can be put into the model projections of the vortices given that the models typically only have moderate resolution and that the climatological structure of the vortices in the models depends on the tuning of gravity wave parameterizations.

Given the above outstanding issues, there is need for continued research in the dynamics of the vortices and their representation in global models.”

Stratospheric Polar Vortices, Waugh et al. 2010

To learn more about Polar Vortices please visit the WUWT Polar Vortex Reference Page.

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Box of Rocks

So a large chunk of air is moved pole ward, loses energy then is squeezed south, right?
Isn’t that how it is supposed to work?

I’ll have to re-read this, but it was interesting. Thanks Anthony (& WUWT team).
Gene

Pippen Kool

“but little in the way of coherent explanation as to what a Polar Vortex is and how it affects Earth’s temperature. “
Wow. And your 50 graphs helped? I don’t think so. And the fact that you don’t mention the jet stream? Amazing.

Halo

At least for Finland those pictures are lacking reality. Basically it has been +/-0 to +3 celsius here for the last month or so. I can agree that we’re “enjoying” the low pressure of that vortex, but the temperature map doesn’t match at all. Luckily, within few days we’re going to have more normal winter temps here.

Bob Weber

Really good presentation – wow – very interesting. Just perusing the net today must have seen a thousand different explanations for this.

Looks a lot like the movie: “The day After Tomorrow”…

Frank

Thanks for the information overload. I mean that. Thanks. For those who haven’t discovered this, the wind animation can be zoomed and rotated. I was able to get a close up of the winds we’ve had here at my little house on a point on Lake Erie.

DR

@DocWat
LOL! I was thinking the same thing.
So where is James Hansen when you really need him?

And even if the AGW theory were supported by climate models (which this article shows it isn’t), the graphs of the Arctic sea ice extent during this summer show it close to the 30 year average. Time for Michael Mann to call an AGW cult team huddle to rally around “the cause” – http://cosmoscon.com/2014/01/07/time-for-an-agw-cult-team-huddle/

norah4you

Answer to Halo , January 7, 2014 at 7:41 pm
The situation in Finland (and Sweden) is a result of two factors:
* the eruptions in Iceland vulcanos the other year
* today’s Northern Polar Vortex was ‘born’ five years ago and due to the complexe systems mentioned above, including jet streams, as well as our Earth wobbling. All that happened after the Polar Wortex of today was ‘born’ including the vulcanos eruption under water south Alaska which caused inflow of water from the Pacific. Water of other density and higher saltpercentage.

Pippen Kool

“What about the Jet Stream? What are you amazed about?”
The vortex is bounded by the jet stream which has, for some reason (blink blink wink wink) has wandered south. This was documented in the vortexes of 2006, 2009 and 2010, so I think that any intelligent discussion of polar vortexes requires an explanation of what is happening to the jet-stream. Or are you alarmed that this might bring up those scary AGW hypotheses, best ignored?

Reblogged this on A TowDog and commented:
At last, an explanation for the dreaded “ArcticSharkVortexNado” that’s based on science instead of breathless media hype

Greg

An excellent article , thanks.
Guardian article regurgitating article Andrew Freedman at Climate Central :
“Cohen published a study in September that found this Arctic paradox pattern has become common in years with low fall sea ice cover and rapidly advancing fall snow cover across parts of Asia, and that there is a likely link between the trends. The paper found the pattern was observed during the winter of 2012-2013, following the lowest fall sea ice extent on record in September 2012.”
So Freedman sees no problem in applying conclusions of a “paper” in a magazine called TOS. linking low arctic ice coverage and such events. to a year with average arctic ice extent.
I guess that’s what they mean by “counter-intuitive”, a terms that seems to be “trending” recently.

Kevin Kilty

Pippen Kool says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm
“What about the Jet Stream? What are you amazed about?”
The vortex is bounded by the jet stream which has, for some reason (blink blink wink wink) has wandered south. This was documented in the vortexes of 2006, 2009 and 2010…

How often during winter does the jet stream wander far south? Does it ever wander very far north? During its excursion south in one place does it wander far north in other places. Do you have a large enough sample of jet stream behavior to justify your winking?

Greg

JTF: “Furthermore, if you look at the graph above last time this type of event occurred, i.e. the “January 1985 Arctic outbreak”, Arctic Sea Ice Area appears quite close to average, so it appears spurious to attribute this type of event to declining Arctic Sea Ice.”
That also appears to have a year with unusually small annual variation. Possibly the lowest in the record.

Greg

Just on casual observation, it looks to me like the round shape of the simple votex is being squeezed between two highs. The strongest one being in North Pacific.
That would appear to be what is causing the deformation leading to the bulge now extending into N. Am.
This hotspot seems to have its origins well up in the stratosphere.
I would also note that we just past perihelion at the same time as new moon. This will be a time of maximum tidal forces, which affect both oceans and atmosphere.
I’m currently trying to find out the state of the perigee cycle to see whether earth-moon distance is also adding to this.

Brian R

Pippen Kool says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm
“What about the Jet Stream? What are you amazed about?”
The vortex is bounded by the jet stream which has, for some reason (blink blink wink wink) has wandered south. This was documented in the vortexes of 2006, 2009 and 2010, so I think that any intelligent discussion of polar vortexes requires an explanation of what is happening to the jet-stream. Or are you alarmed that this might bring up those scary AGW hypotheses, best ignored?
———————————
You seem to think that the jet stream is doing something unusual. What would make you think that?

Jeff L

If you read the “Joe’s” on WxBell professional, the likelyhood of the polar vortex dropping over central NA is correlated to the phase of the QBO, AO/NAO & the ENSO (neutral) cycles. If I read their posts correctly, they expect it will drop into the US again before the end of winter due to the combination of the above factors.

Bill H

Box of Rocks says:
January 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm
So a large chunk of air is moved pole ward, loses energy then is squeezed south, right?
Isn’t that how it is supposed to work?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Essentially the polar vorticies (Usually two high pressure interacting with one massive low.) are a massive Heat Transfer in action. This is one of the major driving forces of our planets cooling system and appears to be directly related to upper atmosphere cooling. The air exchange allows black body radiation high into our atmosphere and escape into space. IN times of low solar output the upper atmosphere cools and the down welling of cold interacts with the up welling of warm. Somewhat like a dryline works and causes two distinct areas of rotation, one warm and one cold.
This shoving match soon enlarges to the point the rotation is unstable and like a top is shoved OR wanders off point. When this happens the vortex weakens or collapses and the upwelling warmer air rushes over top of the low disrupting it briefly. After a short period the upper cold air forces its way to the earths surface while the earths rotation resumes the low pressures rotation and the process essentially starts over.
If you look into the history presented by JTF these major cooling spells, sub arctic air intrusion and record breaking low temps have been during times of low solar output and colder air aloft over the poles. During times of higher solar activity the air masses above the poles is warmer and the reduced differential does not allow these vorticies to grow in size. (and incidentally tropical vorticies increased in size)
One could hypothesize that a cooling planet will have greater differential above the poles and thus cooling would be thrust outward to the equator. Even though the temps (at the poles) may moderate, the globe as whole is cooling. Inversely, if the air above the poles is warmer due to an active solar cycle, ADO, PDO, etc the warming reduces the temperature imbalance (at the poles) and thus the polar vortex is reduced in size keeping cooling localized.

Bart

Meh. It’s happened before. It will happen again.
It is amusing, though. After the Warmists realized they really couldn’t get away with labeling every heat spell a sign of AGW, and every cold snap mere weather, they decided to coopt the cold snaps to The Cause as well. I wonder how many suckers will fall for the ploy?

HGW xx/7

Pink-eye Kool,
An article is presented that has facts and you ever-so-daintily try to swat it away with something about a jet stream, which, apperantly, not only disproves all the facts (which really is the ‘scary’ bit, no? wink W!NK ROTFLMAO LOLZ!1!!), but also manages to magically exonerate AGW-substantiating models. Mind you, that is running under a perhaps outlandish assumption that there is one agreed upon, unifying AGW model that has accurately predicted long-term trends, not only incuding a jet stream model, but all the other myriad of plagues it is to visit it upon us.
You work in sarcasm like Rubin worked in oils. But please, keep it up. 🙂 Really, you’re a bit of a model yourself.

HGW xx/7

By the way, I must add how humorous it is that the good Sir Pip is sent into convulsions over all the fact-filled, NOAA and other governmentally sourced data and would rather, instead, focus on one additional factor that he feels backs him up. You must be breaking out in hives when you visit this site. Do take care of yourself. Please, don’t mind all the additional information being posted in response to your fits.

Michael Galvin

Elephant in the room. With a quiet sun and a polar vortex with potential to last several months, and if next Spring and Summer temperatures are below average, is this the tipping point for a mini ice age?

Leon Brozyna

Dr. Maue used the term “polar vortex” in the piece that appeared on FOX News. So, all of a sudden, a rather mundane meteorological term is being bandied about as though it’s a just discovered rare event.
As a matter of interest, there’s a NOAA website full of data about the Great Lakes, not just ice cover, although, at this time of year, ice cover is of great concern when its absence can result in lake snow events that can be measure by the foot:
http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/res/glcfs/

alex

justthefactswuwt says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:03 pm
15 graphics for the record, but regardless, maybe a video would help? This animation shows Earth’s Winter 2008 – 09 Arctic Polar Vortex breakup and a Sudden Stratospheric Warming:
Wow! Excellent video. Very impressive!
It shows that our atmosphere is actually a thermal machine.

rogerknights

Michael Galvin says:
January 7, 2014 at 10:13 pm
Elephant in the room. With a quiet sun and a polar vortex with potential to last several months, and if next Spring and Summer temperatures are below average, is this the tipping point for a mini ice age?

It’s more like a dark cloud on the horizon at this point. And the temperature would most likely “tip” only down to the “step” it was at before the 1998 step-change upward.
But that’ll be the final and fatal arrow in the elephant, as far as the warmist narrative goes.

I think we just had a polar vortex come up our street. Sounds like it taunted the neighbor’s dog. It sounded really spinny as it came up the road. We live in a cul-du-sac so I think it became confused. By the time I got to the door it was gone, though. I hear there is a flock of those vortices headed for North Carolina tonight. They told us to leave our faucets dripping and to keep the cabinet doors open. Maybe they don’t like the sound of dripping water and leaving those doors open means they can’t hide in there. I haven’t actually seen one of them yet but I have been keeping a close eye in the mirror on my drive to work because I hear they like to sneak up behind you. Last thing I need is a polar vortex right up the old tailpipe.

William McClenney

Pippen Kool says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm
“What about the Jet Stream? What are you amazed about?”
Or are you alarmed that this might bring up those scary AGW hypotheses, best ignored?
Pippen Kool: I am not so sure it really matters. The last interglacial, the Eemian (MIS-5e) did not go out with a bang. It went out after at least two bangs (or warming events), the second of which sent the most sensitive measure of climate change (sea level) a minimum of 10 times (+6.0 meters, or one order of magnitude) the AR4 “business as usual” prognostication of +0.59 meters amsl to almost 2 orders of magnitude (+52meters amsl – Lysa et al, “Late Pleistocene stratigraphy and sedimentary environment of the Arkhangelsk area, northwest Russia”, Global and Planetary Change 31 [2001]. 179–199).
The jet stream will do whatever it does, and especially at an end extreme interglacial. No one knows why.
What we actually do know is that that the end extreme interglacials are attended with from at least 1 to 3 thermal pulses, right at their very ends, If the scariest AGW hypothesis yields only +0.59 meters amsl (Figure 10.33 from page 821 of Chapter 10 of AR4) then I register as duly unscared out of my wits.
If you think for one minute that you can scare me with an AGW “signal” of +0.59 meters amsl (slightly less than 10% of the lowest estimate of the second thermal pulse at the end Eemian, which is +6 meters amsl), then you are sadly mistaken. If you want to challenge the highest sea level estimate for that second thermal pulse then you need 88 times as much sea level rise (or +52 meters amsl, almost 2 orders of magnitude) just to reach parity with the high-end of the most recent reported end extreme interglacial “noise” (Lysa et al, 2001, “Late Pleistocene stratigraphy and sedimentary environment of the Arkhangelsk area, northwest Russia”, Global and Planetary Change 31, pp 179–199, sorry, link to this paper is down at present).
See http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/03/16/the-end-holocene-or-how-to-make-out-like-a-madoff-climate-change-insurer/
In closing, please do try to keep up.
Best Regards,
William

JB Goode

Pippen Kool says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm
‘so I think that any intelligent discussion of polar vortexes’
I am sure ‘justthefactswuwt’ is walking on air now you have condescended to have an ‘intelligent’
discussion with him.
Just for the record,kindly define ‘intelligent’ discussion,because seriously every single time,bar none, I see someone refer to themselves as intelligent they turn out to be as thick as two short planks.

Khwarizmi

Awesome, interesting, educational post, JTF. Thanks. The wind animation is a work of art.
Pippen Kool said:
“The vortex is bounded by the jet stream which has, for some reason (blink blink wink wink) has wandered south. This was documented in the vortexes of 2006, 2009 and 2010, so I think that any intelligent discussion of polar vortexes requires an explanation of what is happening to the jet-stream. Or are you alarmed that this might bring up those scary AGW hypotheses, best ignored?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The best-ignored hypotheses of AGW, Drought Vortex Edition…

Climatologists are desperately trying to explain the mystery of where southern Australia’s winter rainfall is going. They’ve known the rain is being pulled south by an unexplained force. Now they’ve devised a revolutionary new theory to explain why. It appears that the circulation of the entire Southern Hemisphere is changing to suck our rain away. The reason is the Antarctic Vortex – a natural tornado of 30km high, super-cold, super-fast winds spiralling around Antarctica. The vortex is not new; it’s one of the engines that drive climate in the Southern Hemisphere. But now it appears the vortex is shifting gear, and is spinning faster and faster, and getting tighter. As it does it’s pulling the climate bands further south dragging rain away from the continent out into the southern ocean. Most disturbing of all we might be responsible for shifting the speed of the vortex. Scientists at the US Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research believe the speeding up of the vortex is caused by the combined effect of global warming and the depletion of the ozone layer over Antarctica.
If their theory is true it will have devastating consequences for our southern cities – the drought may not go away.
http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s948858.htm

William McClenney

JB Goode says:
January 7, 2014 at 11:39 pm
“kindly define ‘intelligent’ discussion”
JB, if I may, I have spent considerable time trying to come up with a proper example of the difference between intellectual and plain-old Kool clever.
It seems to me that if Wernher von Braun, a hominid that contributed significantly to putting another hominid on the moon, while on his way to the loo at a deepest/darkest African safari, is attacked and killed by a leopard lying in wait beside the trail to the loo. In such an instance one might conclude that the Leopard appears to be superior.
The Leopard did away with one that set the stage for our rendezvous with our moon. To date, no leopards have mounted any expedition to the moon. Yet it was the leopard that triumphed and survived.
So, Pippen Kool, in the game of life, indeed in the game of the universe, which is the superior intellect?
The clever leopard, by way of its clever hiding place in the weeds, won the game of life. In your best estimation, Pippen Kool, at what point in the future do you suppose leopards will land a rover (or the first leopard) on the moon?
Because landing a rover on the moon (perhaps even Mars) is as clear a demonstration of intelligence that any creature calling gaia home can presently lay claim to. Below that bar lies the not so difficult discussion of cleverness…….
Thanks JB Goode for your insightful musings – William

It is technically not a true SSW, rather a USLM disturbance that usually precedes a SSW. The warming initiated at the 1hPa and downwelled to 10hPa, http://i.imgur.com/zK7IB6l.gif
The Zonal Mean Zonal winds didn’t really budge either, http://i.imgur.com/y0GLgpr.gif but the warming did come from the wave 2 activity, That began near the end of Dec, and still going as we speak,
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/strat-trop/gif_files/time_pres_WAVE2_MEAN_ALL_NH_2013.gif
noting its clear signature in the last animated anomaly map, the 2 warm Highs at the “side” (gives the shape of a peanut or squeezing a balloon in the middle if looking down at the NP)
We need several more rounds of Wave 1 & 2 to really knock down the PV via a true SSW (which is looking to occur late January.

Sheffield Chris

According to BBC weatherman , Liam Dutton, on BBC Radio 2 yesterday (7-1-14) the “Polar Vortex” is an American thing that only exists at very high altitude and cannot affect ground conditions. Back to the classroom Liam

Greg

Sound interesting but acronyms like SSW, rather a USLM disturbance don’t mean much out of context. Also I don’t see any peanuts.
Wave 1 & 2 just looks like two ends of an annual cycle , why #1 #2 ?

wolfho

The temperature graphs are way off the mark. We’re experiencing the warmest winter I’ve seen in my life(northern sweden). Just find it odd thats the images show us part of the cooling. NA seems to fit according to what I’ve read in the media/blogs.

Greg

Sheffield Chris says:
According to BBC weatherman , Liam Dutton, on BBC Radio 2 yesterday (7-1-14) the “Polar Vortex” is an American thing that only exists at very high altitude and cannot affect ground conditions. Back to the classroom Liam
Sound on a par with Michael Fish’s classic, “don’t worry, there isn’t” a few hours before a storm that brought down 1/3 of the trees in Britain.
The Met Office have ‘improved’ their forecast models since. But still don’t seen to have learnt that you can’t rely on computer models.

RichardLH

Pippen Kool says:
January 7, 2014 at 7:39 pm
“Wow. And your 50 graphs helped? I don’t think so. And the fact that you don’t mention the jet stream? Amazing.”
And your 21 thoughtful and incisive words added so much more to the understanding of this event and its causes by everybody?

RichardLH

Pippen Kool says:
January 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm
“The vortex is bounded by the jet stream which has, for some reason (blink blink wink wink) has wandered south. This was documented in the vortexes of 2006, 2009 and 2010, so I think that any intelligent discussion of polar vortexes requires an explanation of what is happening to the jet-stream. Or are you alarmed that this might bring up those scary AGW hypotheses, best ignored?”
So am I to take it that the situation is now getting worse and worse every couple of years with this vortex being more and more likely to occur in the future because AGW says that more really cold air getting further south is what is going to happen more frequently?
That is REALLY scary. AGW = lots of cold air further south. Makes a change from the usual fair I suppose.

Liam Dutton is the Ch4 weather presenter and is much more grounded than the news team who still glibly promote on the main 7pm news that climate change has caused the polar vortex to move to America in the context of ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ film.

JB Goode

William McClenney says:
January 8, 2014 at 12:16 am
Thanks William
Kool and the gang,I just dont understand them.
It’s not for want of trying,I just can’t get my head that far up my arse.

Is worthwhile recalling:
I. “Solar activity is declining very fast at the moment,” Mike Lockwood, professor of space environmental physics at Reading University, UK, told New Scientist. “We estimate faster than at any time in the last 9300 years.”
“And less solar activity can slow the jet stream, triggering a suite of interlinked extreme weather events …” (http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24512-solar-activity-heads-for-lowest-low-in-four-centuries.html)
Of course, I completely do not agree with M. Lockwood relating the strength and importance of AGW: now and in the future.
II. “When we have had periods where the sun has been quieter than usual we tend to get these much harsher winters,” Sunderland University climate scientist Dennis Wheeler told …”
“After the maximum of solar cycle 24, from approximately 2014 we can expect the start of deep cooling with a Little Ice Age in 2055,” wrote Habibullo Abdussamatov of the Russian Academy of Science” (http://www.trunews.com/multiple-lines-evidence-suggest-global-cooling/)
This is a decrease in solar activity (http://www.solen.info/solar/images/cycles23_24.png).
Simply “no place” here for AGW …

Brian H

To those objecting to the temp graphs, they are at high altitude, and often opposite to surface temps.

Scute

For those interested in the effect of solar activity on the polar vortex, Michele Casati gave me this link after I commented on his site.
http://strat-www.met.fu-berlin.de/labitzke/moreqbo/MZ-Labitzke-et-al-2006.pdf
As justthefacts says, is it the tail wagging the dog?
I hope everyone has their various instruments oiled and polished, ready for the arrival of tomorrow’s X1+ flare. I would have thought that this is an unprecedented opportunity to measure the effects of a flare on the stratosphere above a disrupted vortex. Could it take the sting out of it by reducing the temperature gradient?

TB

Just thought I’d come in here with a few animations and videos to expain in simple terms to subject of this thread.
justthefacts:
Good job of explaining what is, even to a professional in the field of weather, a complicated subject re physical formation – and one that has only within the last 10 years been acknowledged and appreciated for it’s effects on the “bottom” bit of the atmosphere, where our weather is created.
In the most part this lack of knowledge was due the scarcity of observations, but also due the lack of computing power to model the process of a “SSW” (Sudden Stratospheric Warming).
A number of processes have been observed.
The one underway now involves air having been driven aloft over mountain ranges (Rockies, Himalayas primarily) and creating a wave in the high atmosphere. Due compression on the “down” side this warm “wave” front, warming air “breaks” (think surfing) into the PV and as it has a cold core, then the warm air eventually will mix out the temp differential – or at least squeeze the core to shift it or split it. Current forecasts suggest that a splinter of the PV will drop into Eurasia with the next 2 weeks to bring cold here.
This squeeze can happen where air is funnelled N’wards in certain areas – notably through the Bering Sea into the Chukchi Sea over Alaska and E Siberia (check their warm Dec weather). This “squeeze” often leads to an upstream down-wards movement of the PV pole – hence the current position of it centred over N Canada and extending well S into the States.
Another process has been observed too – a “top down” one, where Ozone is impacted on by Cosmic rays and the inherent warming of O3 destruction causes the warming at the top of the cold high core. This happens (sometimes – not always) in times of Low Solar Flux. Think the Little Ice Age and Maunder minimum.
You have to remember that due the Earth’s spin, air is deflected eastward and cold air amplifies this as high up air will move from warm to cold then turn right (anti-clockwise). So a PV is a self contained/self feeding entity than has winds at all levels (well it diverges at the top) converging into it. It can only move when nudged by warm air.
When this happens – the opposite occurs, in that the temp differential high up reverses and so air then spins the other way (clockwise), slowly down-welling to lower levels and eventually making HP cells in the Arctic. These move air OUT of them and so push frigid Arctic air S. This is distinct however from the major PV pole which after being deflected will restrengthen. This all a winter scenario as the cooling, is of course, because the NP is in permanent darkness for 6 months.
Here are animations of some SSW events…..
http://curriculum.pmartineau.webfactional.com/wp-content/svw_gallery/test/gif/2013_01_17.gif
The jet stream is simply that wind located at the height in the atmosphere where greatest horizontal temperature gradient is present. It demarcates a temp/density/pressure boundary. In warm air at any level there is more air above you than there is at that level in cold. Cold air is denser and hence “hugs” the ground more. So air sat on the warm side is pushed to the cold side. The Earth’s spin then deflects to the right and you have your jet. Therein lies a complexity however – chicken & egg. As the max temp contrast aloft creates the jet – but the jet can distort the contrast (depending on strength and direction).
Here’s a good video showing Rossby wave-train developments…

Here a Lab demonstration of hemispheric flow…

Demonstration of Coriolis in the lab….

And here a good (layman’s) explanation of Sudden Stratospheric warming…

polargoretexneeded

You just don’t get it. I took a science class and it is simple. CO2 is a greenhouse gas. Man is adding greenhouse gas. It is obviously destroying the planet with all this hot and cold stuff going on. Very simple for us smart people who took a science class you see.