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Indexed under : Earth Sciences

Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of Unknowns Wikenigma - an Encyclopedia of the Unknown

Jetstream migration

Jet streams are permanent, narrow bands of fast-moving (100 > 200 km/h) high-altitude (9–12 km above sea level) meandering air currents which flow around the globe in both hemispheres.

Their positioning and power is very significantly important to lower altitude weather systems.

A 2008 study found that the principal jet streams (the one in the Northern hemisphere and the one in the South) have been 'migrating' slowly towards the poles each year (study period 1979 to 2001).

The movement was attributed to climate change. Since then however, the streams appear to have moved back away from the poles again.

There is currently no agreement as to whether the streams are likely to move pole-ward over the long term.

What is agreed is that any permanent movement will substantially alter global weather patterns.

These changes in jet stream latitude, altitude, and strength have likely affected, and perhaps will continue to affect, the formation and evolution of storms in the mid-latitudes and of hurricanes in the sub-tropical regions. Further observations and analyses are needed to confidently attribute the causes of these changes to anthropogenic climate change, natural variability, or some combination of the two.
See : Historical trends in the jet streams Geophysical Research Letters, Volume 35, Issue 8.

Note: Recent years have seen an increase in the fluctuations of the direction of the streams. The streams now tend to meander more North/South rather than flowing directly West to East.

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