Across Asia (including India), Europe and in some parts of America too, unusual chilling cold wave has rendered life motionless, at a time when we are already in the grip of worldwide pandemic. In this regard, a new term has slipped into limelight which few were familiar with before, i.e. polar vortex, referring to upper atmosphere phenomena and any commotion to this, results in ruthless winter storm. The disturbance is said to be caused by icy blasts, took place at Arctic and swayed to middle latitudes. Taking stock of the massively snowy situation, Jenifer Francis, who, at Woodwell Climate Research Centre, sits in the seat of senior scientist also voiced concern over such a long spell of disturbance and its effects and also expressed fear at the third disruption of considerable magnitude, likely to hit following 2.
Now, a concentrated research is underway to examine the complete set of factors which triggered blasts from polar vortex and climate change does qualify to be a prime factor. Even though, warming does refer to winters that are bearable, but Judah Cohen, who directs seasonal forecasting at company Atmospheric and Environmental Research, which enlightens us about devastating risks that climate change could bring forth, says, “the motto for snowstorms in the era of climate change could be go big-go home”.
The US has already witnessed the nature’s fury in the form heavy snowfall that hit the locations of Sierra Nevada as well as the Great Plains hard.
Backwards in January just passed by, even Madrid received a heavy snowfall which measured at one and a half foot alongside Siberia which also went into the shiver with extended spans of considerable cold, recording 40 degrees downwards in the minus side while at one of the neighbouring places, temperature dropped to -73 degrees too. Ironically, these areas had significantly warmer summer just last time.
No doubt, brewing warmth in Arctic unrolls wild weather and region is engulfed under heat quicker than anywhere in the world and going by the research, even the Jet Stream is found drained which surrounds the pole and remains packed generally in such air which is intensely cold. Even in early January, there was abrupt outbreak of warmth that soared and hit the polar stratosphere at zone 5 and upto 30 miles above the earth’s surface.
Clearly, when any of such “sudden” stratospheric warming” takes place, it causes a great thrust to polar vortex which just enables the Arctic air to shift and to blow heavily down on people through the atmosphere.
What on earth is Polar Vortex and how is it related to Climate Change or Global Warming or Severe Cold?
The temperature in US has drowned so below that no trace in records is there, at least in the past 2 decades, and such frozen scenario has compelled a whole breed of scientists and meteorologists to rake up the term Polar Vortex commonly now. This is basically just like an arctic cyclone and resembling a hurricane, it basically flutters over North Pole only to send chilling winds (valued at below 60 degree Celsius) on poor inhabitants of Northern Hemisphere.
In other words, such is a pattern of wind that soars violently (taking form of a cyclone) in the Arctic and circles North Pole all through the year. Shedding light, Sam Houston State University explains that it gets into shape in during polar winter when the air in Stratosphere moves in the circle. Now, polar stratospheric clouds are also formed as a result of terribly low temperature in the vortex, that is -80 degree Celsius. Scientists warn on its dangerous aspect owing to its weakening and it results in winter conditions as we witness now in eastern part of USA.
A bunch of well-informed minds react instinctively to round off global warming as the major factor pushing this and also hold depleting Arctic sea ice responsible. This is bothersome that Arctic witnessed massive temperature increase at rate doubled than that at rest of the world. Clearly, heated atmosphere together with unusual weather arrangement has arctic sea ice forced-melt at great rate gauged at 12% in each passing decade and scientists forewarn arctic to be sans ice by 2030.
There is a set design that is seen, in ice formation in sea and in its melting which is way different than what is seen on land (in form of glaciers, ice layers or shelves) and it is also pivotal to oceanic circulation across the planet. Sunlight subdues sea ice as it gets accumulated and melts down in summer time but in case of ice at Arctic Ocean, there is interplay of certain factors and when warm ocean currents running north backed by equator, it not only warms the water and also stymies the ice formation.
Not surprisingly, arctic sea ice is considered to be a significant part of climate system on our planet and ice present at Polar Regions regulate earth’s temperature as sunlight is reflected back into space and dark oceans are quick to ingest sunlight. As such, the long term impact of arctic is perceived with little ice and that can easily give way to cataclysmic climate change in years to come.
So in our endurance to Polar Vortex, our efforts are set towards withstanding another “snowmaggedon” or should we be simply more inquisitive about Arctic warming as well as its adverse effects on human survival on earth?