The stratospheric polar vortex will turn upside down in March 2024!

The stratospheric polar vortex will turn upside down in March 2024!

The polar vortex changed direction around March 4, 2024, according to Dr. Amy Butler, author of the NOAA Polar Vortex blog. The change was significant, reaching -20.5 m/s a few days ago, making it one of the six strongest such events since 1979.

Conceptual model of the stratospheric polar vortex, under normal conditions, and the polar jet. Noah
Francisco Martin Leon Francisco Martin Leon Spain meteorite 3 minutes

As reported by NOAA and Space climateAfter two weeks, It's always going in circles.

What will happen to the stratospheric polar vortex in March 2024?

“Planetary atmospheric waves have broken into the polar stratosphere, warming it,” Butler says. We call this “Sudden stratospheric warming” (SSW), which can cause the vortex to change direction.

Temperature evolution in the lower stratosphere, 150 hPa, with sudden temperature rise in the stratosphere, SWW, as reported in March 2024 text. NOAA
Temperature evolution in the lower stratosphere, 150 hPa, with sudden temperature rise in the stratosphere, SWW, as reported in March 2024 text. NOAA

In recent years, many people have heard the term “polar vortex” because… Due to its effect on winter climatic conditions. When the polar vortex is strong and stable, it helps trap cold air in the polar regions. When the vortex weakens or breaks down, cold air spreads to lower latitudes.

The polar vortex is an atmospheric phenomenon that occurs in the Earth's polar regions, primarily over the North and South Poles. It is an area of ​​low pressure surrounded by a strong stream of cold, swirling air, known as the polar jet stream. This vortex is stronger and more extensive in winter, when the temperature difference between the pole and mid-latitudes is most pronounced.

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This month's inverted vortex did not cause a winter weather outbreak. Instead, it produced a very strong increase in polar ozone.

Evolution of ozone concentration in the Arctic regions.  Noah
Evolution of ozone concentration in the Arctic regions. Noah

The red curve shows the increase in polar ozone in March 2024.

“The sudden warming of the stratosphere accelerates the transport of ozone from the tropics to the poles,” Mr. Butler explains. “In addition, heating the air helps prevent chemical ozone loss.

The current “ozone peak” – the opposite of the ozone hole – It is the largest recorded in the month of March since records began in 1979.

Soon things may return to normal. Mr Butler says the vortex is slowing down and “could head west again in about ten days”. In this case, the ozone peak will decrease.

Stay tuned Updates From the stratosphere.

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