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The ‘Polar Vortex’ explained in lay terms, even Donald Trump seems to understand … ummm sort of
by Eric Roston, Why Is It So Cold? The Polar Vortex, Explained

“Polar vortex” has taken an uncontested lead in the competition for buzzword of 2014. It’s brought Arctic chill to the continental United States, disrupted industries and cities, and most, curiously, turned Donald Trump into a climate realist. Sort of.This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice

—Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014

It’s simple really… the Polar Vortex is the name given to the current disruption of the  Northern Hemisphere winter Jet Stream pattern. Disruption caused by ‘global warming’ YES!
The Arctic is heating faster than the rest of the world, hurried along by the disappearance of polar sea ice. Bright white ice reflects energy back into space; dark blue water absorbs it. Arctic temperatures are about 2 degrees Celsius warmer there than they were in the mid-1960s. (The average temperature increase for the Earth’s atmosphere overall is about 0.7 degree C, since 1900.)

In other words, the temperature difference between the Arctic and North America is shrinking. That’s one factor causing wobbliness in the jet stream

The normal Jet Stream wasn’t as wiggly when there was not the temperature differential and it kept LOW COLD air up to the north of the US and more temperate air in the US (and the UK by the way). Less temperature differential means the Jet stream is slower now..and gets made it more wobbly, just as a top does as it spins down.

Things are to go back to normal later this week. …. so

Now you know why we should use ‘CLIMATE CHANGE’ e.g.. changes in temperature, winds, weather extremes, and changes to oceans, rivers, forests etc to describe current deviations from the old pre Industrial Revolution ‘average’.

OR….You can use 'what some geologists are beginning to call it, the Anthropocene, or human epoch, a departure from the Earth’s operating system—the first in almost 12,000 years'

This is very fine, and I will use it! EVERYWHERE,  but I would rather they identified the true culprits and call it the KOCHocene or CHINocene, as it is fossil fuel burning that has produced it.

DO NOTE: It has so far produced NO SNOW in SOCHI… so we may get some benefit from it after all!.

UPDATE: Here is latest on US carbon pollution production..as some were discussing below Carbon Emissions In The Suburbs Dwarf Those In Cities, Says Study

Using dozens of variables, researchers found that greenhouse-gas emissions -- largely from cars, trucks and other vehicles -- in the suburbs account for about 50 percent of all household emissions in the nation, even though less than 50 percent of the population lives in these areas.
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Comment Preferences

  •  It'll Be Interesting to See Where We Gravitate (5+ / 0-)

    toward identifying a beginning point for the climate change era.

    There've already been a number of events publicly associated with the beginning of the Anthropocene, such as Superstorm Sandy (mainly because of its unusual course).

    I know that nonpolar glaciers began melting quite a long time ago, I'm thinking at least 20 years ago, maybe 30, because at least one of their researchers took up the mission of collecting large numbers of ice cores from all over for safe storage before their weather and climate record melts away.

    Trends of that sort might be one of the most solid ways of identifying when the climate began to respond because it's a continuous phenomenon unlike seasons, storms, daily temperatures and such.

    There might be some plant species indicators; maybe something in upper seafloor sediment cores that could identify the beginning of the climate response.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:54:02 AM PST

    •  QUITE… I am thinking the Greenland icecap... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock, Bronx59

      is one too. Heck, just following the Polar Ice Melt is enough to explain this portion of the phenomenon.

      Meanwhile it is 29 in Atlanta today… 70 in Tampa..

      We lived in New Orleans in 1978-79. I remember a Mardi Gras where I wore my best down ski jacket and pants and sorry to say, real fur hat.  FROZE anyway..as I didn’t have the anti-freeze on board the float riders did.

      Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial,Multigender and MiddleClass

      by LOrion on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:02:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  In geological terms, the beginning (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Dead Man, Gooserock

      is the Industrial Age beginning in the 19th century and accelerating through the 20th. IMO, that will be recognized as the 150-year "beginning."

      Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

      by RudiB on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:53:05 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Yes! (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jwinIL14, KenBee, NoMoreLies, MKinTN, Bronx59

    Whenever a snowflake falls, the shills are at the ready with fossil fuel industry talking points denying climate change.

    Yup, it still gets cold in winter, but weather extremes are becoming more common and it's our fault ... humans!   And we're being prevented from reversing the damage we caused because some assholes are raking in megabucks from the status quo.

    They're using the same tried and true tactics of the tobacco industry - create doubt.  And they're disrespecting science and science hatred is becoming a tenet of their political ideology.

    Cyclical things happen.  Winter spring summer and fall come.  The sun goes down (didn't explode or get eaten by a dragon) and comes up again.  Climate change is real.  We are seeing more and more evidence of it.

    The propaganda so the fossil fuel industry can ruin the planet while scaping up their last megaprofits has to end.

    There already is class warfare in America. Unfortunately, the rich are winning.

    by Puddytat on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:56:47 AM PST

  •  Obligatory ... (10+ / 0-)

    It's 40 below zero mateys, and thar be shrinkage.

    by jwinIL14 on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 11:56:59 AM PST

  •  I don't think so (5+ / 0-)
    You can use 'what some geologists are beginning to call it, the Anthropocene, or human epoch, a departure from the Earth’s operating system—the first in almost 12,000 years'
    That's inaccurate. In general, you won't find geologists using such a term and such a term is not formally recognized (as the names for other geologic time periods are).

    Geologic time periods are determined based on the geologic record. The geologic record for the present day doesn't exist yet (or, more specifically, still is forming), and consequently it will be left to future geologists to determine if the term "anthropocene" has any utility to the geological sciences.

    What I've observed is that it largely is non-geologists who are adopting that term to emphasize their point about changes to the Earth systems caused by human activity.  However, it's not up to them to identify and name geologic time periods. It's not a popularity contest. If it is observable in rocks and other geologic deposits and has utility to the science of geology to distinguish it from the Holocene, then it will be adopted. Not because non-geologists have popularized it.

    Y'know.  Science.

  •  If by CHINocene you meant China then please don't. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RudiB, Catte Nappe, LOrion, John Crapper

    The West and the US first and foremost cannot conveniently roll the blame elsewhere.

    It is us and our national/cultural ancestors in the West, to whose actions we owe our lives of relative wealth and comfort (compared with, and at the expense of, the rest of the world) who have burnt the vast majority of this CO2 to date.

    Even now as China nominally burns more CO2, it does not on a per-capita basis.

    Last but not least: much of China's CO2 emissions are being done while making toys and trinkets for us, so that we can buy them cheaply without caring to ask how and at what real cost.

    No, it is not the CHINocene.

    Perhaps the CONSUME-ocene if you look for a more reality-based term.

  •  Shouldn't global warming push the jet stream (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RudiB

    north, not south?  A bigger ice sheet (like the ancient Laurentide Ice Sheet) drew the jet stream north.   Shouldn't a shrinking ice cap allow it to meander more to the south?  

    “Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

    by SpamNunn on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:47:49 PM PST

    •  The Arctic air masses don't stay in one place. (5+ / 0-)

      Because there's less difference in temperature between the Arctic and the temperate latitudes, the jet stream moves around more (or shall we say, staggers drunkenly), thus sometimes, like this past week, it staggers south and brings a pile of Arctic cold air with it.

    •  GW makes the jet stream oscillate more (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      Cf. Rossby waves, and Google "arctic amplification and extreme weather"

      Apparently the idea that arctic heating would cause more temperature extremes in the northern hemisphere was somewhat controversial until this current dramatic demonstration of the phenomenon in action.

    •  Rec'd for posing a serious question (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SpamNunn

      But as noted in another reply, it is proximate differences in pressure and temperature that make winds (and the jet stream) blow the way they do.

      Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

      by RudiB on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:11:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I will wait for a serious reply. (0+ / 0-)

        There must be a study that answers this intuitive question.  I read that the low temps caused by the Laurentide Ice Sheet caused the jet stream to shift north, which caused a major drought when it did.  

        It would seem, to me, that a loss of polar ice would have the opposite effect from what we are seeing.   Does anyone know the science on this phenomenon, or are the news media just flogging a story this week?

        “Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under, but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.” ― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

        by SpamNunn on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:45:42 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  read atana's Wiki link about Rossby waves (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          SpamNunn

          as well as this one about sudden stratospheric warming.

          See also Jeff Masters on the subject here:

          In the winter, the 24-hour darkness over the snow and ice-covered polar regions allows a huge dome of cold air to form. This cold air increases the difference in temperature between the pole and the Equator, and leads to an intensification of the strong upper-level winds of the jet stream. The strong jet stream winds act to isolate the polar regions from intrusions of warmer air, creating a "polar vortex" of frigid counter-clockwise swirling air over the Arctic. The chaotic flow of the air in the polar vortex sometimes allows a large dip (a sharp trough of low pressure) to form in the jet stream over North America, allowing the Arctic air that had been steadily cooling in the northern reaches of Canada in areas with 24-hour darkness to spill southwards deep into the United States. In theory, the 1.5°F increase in global surface temperatures that Earth has experienced since 1880 due to global warming should reduce the frequency of 1-in-20 year extreme cold weather events like the current one. However, it is possible that climate change could alter jet stream circulation patterns in a way that could increase the incidence of unusual jet stream "kinks" that allow cold air to spill southwards over the Eastern U.S., a topic I have blogged about extensively, and plan to say more about later this week.
          TL,DR: warmer Arctic = weaker temp gradient between north pole and tropics = weaker jet stream = more jet stream meanders = cold waves east of the Rockies.

          Re: the term "polar vortex," that's being used incorrectly in the popular media, if I understand correctly. The polar vortex stays at the pole. The jet stream meander allows that frigid air to come south. We're not seeing anything unusual or new, the only thing unusual about this event is its strength and impact.

          You WANT me on that server! You NEED me on that server!

          by nota bene on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 02:02:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  The jet stream is like a sine curve. (0+ / 0-)

      If it gets pushed north in one area, it pushes it south in another area.

  •  So many people don't know the difference... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RudiB

    between weather and climate. It's quite shocking actually.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

    by HairyTrueMan on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 12:56:56 PM PST

    •  R: not knowing the difference (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HairyTrueMan

      The fault is in our K12 education system (seriously) that is so focused on math and English that there's little room left for social studies (history, economics, geography) and science. (BTW, I'm not knocking teachers, but the pols who dictate the purpose of schooling.)

      Did you ver notice how har it is totype accurately on an iPad?

      by RudiB on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:07:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  San Francisco has climate. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gooserock

      The rest of the country has weather.

      Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

      by Anne Elk on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:28:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Or put another way: (0+ / 0-)

    Image taken from here: http://scienceblogs.com/...

    Can I shamelessly pimp my diary while I'm here?

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

  •  How are the MSM weathercritters presenting this (0+ / 0-)

    in local markets? Are they explaining that, yup, this cold air is due to warming of the arctic and loss of sea ice?  Or are they still shilling for the Koch brothers?

  •  Question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LOrion

    Does this wobbliness mean that the West coast could get a similar blast? Or does the southward surge of cold air need a lot of land under it as in the mid-west? We are entering a stupendous extension of our drought in the west and southwest. The water crisis is going to wreak enormous changes on agriculture and urban policy in the next few years. So we could do with a massive snow-dump over here. In fact, maybe we should be planning a major water diversion project from the east over to the west.

    Voting is the means by which the public is distracted from the realities of power and its exercise.

    by Anne Elk on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 01:20:57 PM PST

    •  I think the Pacific NINO pattern... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anne Elk

      Has something to do with keeping the WESTERN HIGH up so yes the polar swirls are forced around the US SWest.

      I know we just spent a lovely 10 days in Arizona! But we desperately need water in CA!

      Proud to be part of the 21st Century Democratic Majority Party of the 3M's.. Multiracial,Multigender and MiddleClass

      by LOrion on Tue Jan 07, 2014 at 03:21:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Call it Climate Crisis or Climate Chaos (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LOrion, Gooserock

    Climate Change sounds passive and benign, 'Crisis' evokes the urgent need for action, while chaos is probably the most accurate technically. Obviously 'Global Warming' is right out.

    Anthropocene is great for sounding clever among people who already get it. It's value at motivating/informing non-geologists (or non-classicists) is minimal.

  •  Granted I haven't put a lot of effort into (0+ / 0-)

    researching it, but does the fact that the polar sea is ice free not mean that winds that come across or are generated over that sea will carry more moisture than when the pole was colder and the H2O molecules more firmly bound together in the ice than they are in the relatively warmer open water?

    If so we can expect more snow in years to come, I suspect.

    The fact unbased Right will love that as a talking point.

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