A 'sudden stratospheric warming' is about to occur over the North Pole

North Pole Braces for Impending Stratospheric Warming Event

Several miles above the North Pole, an atmospheric chain reaction may soon initiate that could potentially bring about changes to weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere in the coming weeks. This event could bring winter’s wrath to places that have mostly remained devoid of cold and snow. However, it’s still uncertain how significant or long-lasting any changes may be, and exactly where and when they would occur.

Most of the Eastern U.S. and Europe have managed to escape winter’s effects so far, with only a few short-lived Arctic blasts causing any inconvenience. With signs of spring emerging, from barren ski slopes to budding blooms, it’s natural to wonder if winter is already over. But there’s a possibility that this chain reaction could put a halt to the transition towards spring.

The sequence of events all begins in the stratosphere, where computer models are suggesting that temperatures may increase by 60 degrees in the coming week, signaling what is known as a “sudden stratospheric warming” event. Although this may not sound like something that will bring winter to life, this phenomenon is known for disrupting the polar vortex. When the polar vortex is thrown off balance, it can result in substantial changes to the prevailing weather patterns over North America, Europe, and Asia in the following weeks and months.

Judah Cohen, a seasonal weather forecaster with the firm Atmospheric and Environmental Research, wrote in a recent blog post that “often following SSWs [sudden stratospheric warmings], more severe wintry weather becomes more widespread across the Northern Hemisphere”. These warming events occur on average every other winter, but their outcomes are never the same. Some bring about only mild alterations to the prevailing weather pattern, while others can bring about radical change.

For example, in 2018, the stratosphere suddenly warmed, the polar vortex fractured, and weather chaos unfolded over much of Europe and eastern North America. In late February, a punishing blast of Siberian air — dubbed the “beast from the east” — invaded Europe, delivering the coldest weather in years. By March, frigid air arrived in eastern North America and triggered four blockbuster storms in the Northeast, with the cold not retreating until late April in some areas.

Experts who study the stratosphere and the polar vortex say that while there’s no reason to expect a repeat of 2018 this year, a vortex disruption still has the potential to upset weather patterns. There are actually two polar vortexes over the North Pole at any given time — a meandering, wavy one in the troposphere (the lowest level of the atmosphere) and a more concentrated whirlpool of frigid air in the stratosphere above.

The stratospheric polar vortex is a buzzsaw-like maelstrom of cold air, low pressure, and spin that gyrates and whirs over the North Pole. The Southern Hemisphere has its own polar vortex over Antarctica. At present, most major computer models are suggesting that a sudden stratospheric warming event could occur next week, which would disturb the vortex.

Simon Lee, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia University, said in an email that it “would be the first major sudden stratospheric warming” since January 5, 2021, if it occurs, and the fourth in the past six winters. A marker of a sudden stratospheric warming event is a reversal in the prevailing polar vortex winds, wrote Amy Butler, an atmospheric scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Models are generally predicting the sudden stratospheric warming to occur between February 15-17, but there is still considerable uncertainty about how things will evolve.

In conclusion, the possibility of an atmospheric chain reaction above the North Pole may soon cause changes to weather patterns across the Northern Hemisphere. The event is due to a “sudden stratospheric warming” event in the stratosphere, which can result in substantial changes to the prevailing weather patterns over North America, Europe, and Asia in the following weeks and months. According to experts, these warming events can cause more severe wintry weather to become widespread across the Northern Hemisphere. Although it’s not certain how significant or long-lasting the changes may be, they could potentially halt the transition towards spring. The polar vortex, a buzzsaw-like maelstrom of cold air and spin, is expected to be disturbed if the sudden stratospheric warming event occurs next week. However, there is still a considerable degree of uncertainty about the exact timing and outcome of this event.

Aside from the weather changes, it’s important to also acknowledge the growing threat of melting glaciers, which can have severe impacts on millions of people around the world. To learn more about this issue, click on the following link: “Melting Glaciers: A Growing Threat To Millions.”