Polar vortex may alter climate
Above the North Pole is a massive maelstrom of air, a “polar vortex” that scientists have shown is speeding up and may explain some of the dramatic changes now being observed in the Arctic environment.
The counterclockwise swirl of winds have been speeding up, and, as the vortex has gained speed and strength in the past decade, scientists have observed increases in average Arctic temperatures, bursts in the amount of plankton, jellyfish and vegetation, and changes in the Arctic Ocean’s balance of fresh and salt water.
“This is possibly also related to global climate change,” said scientist James Morison of the University of Washington.
An international gathering of Arctic researchers in Seattle was recently organized by the National Science Foundation as part of its project SEARCH (the Study of Environmental Arctic Change).
Researchers discussed a variety of disturbing changes in the Arctic, such as thinning sea ice, shifts in ocean currents and disruptions of animal habitat.