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Polar vortex behind U.S. big chill explained

polar-vortex-behind-u-s-big-chill-explained

The chilling weather phenomenon that hit much of the U.S. in January is explained by scientist Eric Fetzer using data from NASA's AIRS instrument. 

This movie of temperature observations from NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua spacecraft depicts the first major North American weather event of 2014: cold air moving out of the Arctic and south to cover much of the continent. The temperatures shown are at a pressure of 850 hectopascals (hPa, formerly knows as millibars; sea level pressure is normally around 1000 hPa). Pressures of 850 hPa correspond to an altitude of about 3,000 feet (1 kilometer) above sea level. The temperatures in the movie range from about minus 18 degrees Fahrenheit (245 Kelvin or minus 28 degrees Celsius) to warmer than 66 degrees Fahrenheit (290 Kelvin or about 17 degrees Celsius). The very coldest temperatures in purples and blues are minus 18 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 28 to about minus 8 degrees Celsius).


The most obvious feature of the movie is the tongue of cold air moving out of Canada and southward to cover much of the eastern United States during early January 2014. This event was covered extensively in the media, and introduced the term 'polar vortex' to a broader audience. 

This global perspective illustrates some features not noted in all the recent media attention. Perhaps most obvious: this is not a global phenomenon. The eastern half of the United States includes only about one percent of the total surface area of the planet (about two million of 197 million square miles). One advantage of satellite observations, as from AIRS, is coverage of the entire planet. A truly global perspective is required when studying variations in climate, and this event must be compared against a number of other phenomena occurring around the planet. Note that Alaska and northern Eurasia were warm during this period of unusual cold over the eastern United States.

The following video is data only version:

Videos courtesy of: NASA / JPL

Featured image and caption credit: NASA / JPL

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6 Comments

  1. looking at the data over the last two years i would say that the mayan caladar was write as the milky way system moves toward the center of are spiral galaxy also electronic devices are being affected in almost a week iss live will beretired iam pissed off we need data as scientist layman like my self .it begs me to wonder what are they realy doing its supposed to be the international space station if you can guys and girls.children of all ages mans step into final frontier but as always they manage to fumbel out of service . i sermise a global event is comeing that will rewrite history and exsistance as we know it thus the weather and the polar anomalies the goverments of the world have long known of massive changes . sad that they deem themselves masters of the universe as a being on this planet its allmost shameful of how the elected rulers diside the dismination of knowledge in institutions and culturaly the ancients had right all alonge everything has a order no random purpose or else as concious beings we could not reason. thus i state truth freedom peace love for creation and the source of it all . that is the fact that matter continues on infinite in all planes of visabel and invisabel

  2. Major changes in the Sun’s magnetic field means major changing in Earth’s magnetic field. There is a correlation between the Interplanetary Magnetic Field (IMF) and polar jets stream, that drive weather events on our planet. Because of the rapid changes of the Earth’s magnetic field the effects have extended further towards the Equator than what used to be when the field was more stable. Moreover, this extreme weather in the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere at the same time is an overwhelming evidence that the drifting of Earth’s magnetic field has speeded up.
    Jamal Shrair, author of Helical Universe

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