What is the Polar Vortex?

The polar vortex, a low-pressure system spinning around the arctic, might cause an outbreak of cold weather in the United States.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air surrounding the Earth’s North and South poles. The term vortex refers to the counterclockwise flow of air that helps keep the colder air close to the poles. Often during winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the polar vortex will become less stable and expand, sending cold Arctic air southward over the United States with the jet stream.”

However, the polar vortex isn’t the cause of all cold weather in the United States. It usually stays at the poles and only when weakened will it come down south. With climate change, the polar vortex is weakened causing cold air to come down. Global warming has a big effect on the polar vortex.

According to nationalgeographic.com, “In the past 30 years, the Arctic has warmed about twice as fast as the rest of the world, a phenomenon known as arctic amplification. The warming has led to retreating glaciers and a loss of sea ice in the region, and it may also make the stratospheric polar vortex less stable, though that connection isn’t yet clear to scientists.”

Glaciers also regulate the global temperature. When it melts it heats the earth. The melting ice also causes the oceans to rise. Rising sea levels cause storm surges to go further inland than once before.

To conclude Weather.gov says, “In short, there is no cause to be alarmed when you hear about the polar vortex, but you should be prepared for colder temperatures.”