What Exactly is polar vortex? Did we witness this before?

The whole world is introduced by a phrase you’ve seen in headlines in all media: the ominous-sounding “Polar Vortex.

So what’s happening?
A huge mass of arctic air has slipped away from the North Pole, settled over the U.S. and made everything really, really cold, meteorologists told The Times.

What is a polar vortex?

As per wiki “A polar vortex (also known as a polar cyclone, polar low, frigid twister, or a circumpolar whirl) is a persistent, large-scale cyclone located near either of a planet’s geographical poles. On Earth, the polar vortices are located in the middle and upper troposphere and the stratosphere. They surround the polar highs and lie in the wake of the polar front. These cold-core low-pressure areas, strengthen in the winter and weaken during the summer due to their reliance upon the temperature differential between the equator and the poles”

Is this is the first time we saw this phenomenon?
In 1985, we did witness polar vortex in the US which is widely known as Winter 1985 Arctic outbreak. The Winter 1985 Arctic outbreak was a meteorological event, the result of the shifting of the polar vortex further south than is normally seen. Blocked from its normal movement, polar air from the north pushed into nearly every section of the eastern half of the United States and Canada, shattering record lows in a number of areas. The event was preceded by unusually warm weather in the eastern U.S. in December 1984, suggesting that there was a build-up of cold air that was suddenly released from the Arctic.

The outbreak brought human fatalities, deaths of wild and domesticated animals, crop losses, and infrastructure damage to homes, municipal and industrial sites. At least 126 deaths were blamed on the cold snap.Some 90 percent of the citrus crop in Florida was destroyed in what the state called the “Freeze of the Century.” Florida’s citrus industry suffered $1.2 billion in losses ($2.3 billion in 2009 dollars) as a result of the inclement weather

When will it be over?
The polar mass is expected to warm slightly as it moves over the East Coast by Monday night, before finally blowing out to sea.

Polar vortex effect on Ozone Layer depletion
The chemistry of the Antarctic polar vortex has created severe ozone depletion. The nitric acid in polar stratospheric clouds reacts with chlorofluorocarbons to form chlorine, which catalyzes the photochemical destruction of ozone. Chlorine concentrations build up during the polar winter, and the consequent ozone destruction is greatest when the sunlight returns in spring.These clouds can only form at temperatures below about −80 °C (−112 °F). Since there is a greater air exchange between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes, ozone depletion at the north pole is much less severe than in the south. Accordingly, the seasonal reduction of ozone levels over the Arctic is usually characterized as an “ozone dent”, whereas the most severe ozone depletion over the Antarctic is considered an “ozone hole”. This said, chemical ozone destruction in the 2011 Arctic polar vortex attained, for the first time, a level clearly identifiable as an Arctic “ozone hole”

Polar Vortex 2014 : Photos of Chicago Deep Freeze

Source : Wikipedia

Image Credit : www.thisiscolossal.com


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