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Polar Vortex and the Connection to Climate Change

Posted on February 5, 2019

This is -34° (or-51 windchill value).

As you well know, we’ve been experiencing record low temperatures thanks to this polar vortex. And yes — there is a connection to climate change.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • The term “polar vortex” isn’t actually new, or anything out of the ordinary. It describes the mass of cold air that typically remains over the north pole.
  • But — with a warming Arctic, there’s evidence that the smaller difference in temperature between the cold north and the warmer south results in a weaker jet stream and a more “wavy” polar vortex, which can lead to warmer air moving farther north, and colder air moving further south.
  • It is very possible that these cold spells could become a more regular winter story.

And a gentle reminder that:

  • 2018 was still the fourth-hottest year on record
  • Arctic sea ice continues to disappear at an alarming rate
  • 2019 could still be the hottest year on record

Our thanks to Dr. John Iacozza from the Centre for Earth Observation Studies (CEOS) at the University of Manitoba for visiting last month to share his latest research on how climate change is affecting the Arctic.

This special presentation was given as part of FortWhyte U, a seasonal lecture series exclusive to FortWhyte Alive volunteers. We continue to be inspired by the passion and dedication to continued learning exhibited by this amazing community of individuals.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at FortWhyte Alive and apply today.