Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Polar Vortexes

Brr! It's Colder Here Than in Alaska

Andrea Thompson

Discovery News

January 7, 2016

A climatologist based in Alaska created a set of maps that charted how often the lower  48 states have colder temperatures that in Alaska. Almost all of the states shows at least one colder day than in Anchorage. In fact, even parts of Florida had colder days than Anchorage (between 1 and 5). Days which were colder than Fairbanks, Alaska were rarer but were still found down into the Southwest and parts of the Southeast. Places such as the Great Plains showed as many as 40 days. To make the maps, Brian Brettschneider went through temperature data and compared the daily low temperatures from 756 weather stations across the U.S.against ones in both Anchorage and Fairbanks for every day from December through February from the winter of 1980-1981 through 2013-2014. (He only used the stations who had data accounting for every day of winter and for a minimum of 20 years of winter). Not much of the country saw any days colder than in Fairbanks, but Boston had between 2 and 5 days of winter, and the Great Plains, 12. When it’s unusually warm in Alaska, the jet stream is formed into a pattern where it pulls warm air from closer to the tropics up to Alaska, but cold, Arctic air down toward Canada and the Lower 48 states. The last couple of winters can be used as examples, Alaska has been at it’s warmest, sometimes even setting heat records.

I chose this article because I really find it amazing that a place so much colder than us (usually) could be warmer now. It is quite incredible that that this is possible. I learned a lot from this article including exactly what a polar vortex is. I completely agree with what the author and scientists are saying, how could it not be true? The proof is right there, I believe that a polar vortex is the best and most plausible idea of how this strange weather can happen. This all connects to the units we have done in science because to make these claims, you have to look at a lot of data. In science, we have been taught to look at all the data and analyze everything. This is exactly what happened in this article, the scientist collected and analyzed countless pieces of data to come to a conclusion, this ties into literally every part of science. This article is affecting scientific knowledge because this is a breakthrough in climatology, this shows exactly why these kinds of things happen, and can be used to plan for the future. Science was really helpful in this investigation because without the data collected by past scientists, there wouldn’t be any conclusion that could be made. I was wondering if there was a way to figure out how many days in Maine were colder than in Alaska, while I couldn’t find any direct information on that, I believe that number would be around 6, I think this because if Boston has between 2 and 5, it would make sense that somewhere more Northern would have a couple more days that are cold.

I believe that the information I found is valid because it comes from one of the leading science news websites Discovery, Discovery is a reliable source because their work is checked over before being published. I felt very surprised that it was colder here than in Alaska.

Fun Facts:

  • The Northern Vortex (Arctic) has two known low-pressure zones, the Balkin Islands, Canada, and one in Northern Siberia.
  • The polar vortex was first described in 1853.
  • 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.” - Wikipedia

Pros and Cons of a Polar Vortex
  • Easier ways of life in Alaska.
  • Higher temperatures in Alaska mean higher ice and snow melt causing flooding and loss of ice.
  • The colder weather here means harder ways of life.
  • Species have to get acclimated to new temperatures which can be stressful.

1 comment:

  1. It's really bad that Alaska is getting warmer. I guess it's another sign of global warning. If Alaska got warmer, it would be really bad.


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