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Winter weather that may go on for months? Wavier jet stream 'may drive weather shift'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
2/18/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Jet stream has taken a longer, meandering path

Research suggests that the main system that helps determine the weather over Northern Europe and North America may be changing. The so-called jet stream has increasingly taken a longer and far pokier path, resulting in weather remaining the same for more prolonged periods.

With the U.K., the U.S. and Australia experiencing prolonged, extreme weather, the question has been raised as to whether recent patterns are due to simple natural variations or the result of manmade climate change?

With the U.K., the U.S. and Australia experiencing prolonged, extreme weather, the question has been raised as to whether recent patterns are due to simple natural variations or the result of manmade climate change?

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
2/18/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Europe

Keywords: Jest stream, winter weather, rain, United Kingdom


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago, the findings suggest this could be the result of the recent warming of the Arctic. Temperatures there have been rising two to three times faster than the rest of the globe.

"This does seem to suggest that weather patterns are changing and people are noticing that the weather in their area is not what it used to be," according to Professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University in New Jersey. "We can expect more of the same and we can expect it to happen more frequently."

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The far slower jet stream has accounted for the recent stormy weather over the United Kingdom and the bitter winter weather in the U.S. Mid-West remaining longer than it otherwise would have.

A high-speed air current in the atmosphere, the jet stream brings with it the weather. It is fuelled partly by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes.

If the differential is large, then the jet stream speeds up. Like a river flowing down a steep hill, the jet stream plows through obstacles, such as areas of high pressure that might be in its way. If the temperature differential reduces because of a warming Arctic then the jet stream weakens and, again, like a river on a flat bed, it will meander every time it comes across an obstacle.

This results in weather patterns tending to becoming stuck over areas for weeks on end. The stream also drives cold weather further south and warm weather further north.

To cite recent examples, Alaska and parts of Scandinavia have had exceptionally warm conditions this winter.

With the U.K., the U.S. and Australia experiencing prolonged, extreme weather, the question has been raised as to whether recent patterns are due to simple natural variations or the result of manmade climate change?

Francis says that this is too soon to tell. "The Arctic has been warming rapidly only for the past 15 years," she says.

"Our data to look at this effect is very short and so it is hard to get a very clear signal.

"But as we have more data I do think we will start to see the influence of climate change."

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