GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GARY HINCKS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Polar vortex and jet stream. Artwork showing the the causes and effects of a breakdown of the polar vortex (white arrows) over the Arctic. The polar jet stream (7-12 km altitude, light blue arrows) is one of the fast flowing high-altitude narrow air currents that circle the Earth. They can have a major influence on the weather. Here the polar jet stream has weakened and moved southwards in the wake of a low pressure system (red arrows) moving east over the Atlantic. Cold air flowing south from the Arctic brings ice and snow to northern parts of Europe and the north-eastern USA. The direction of rotation of the Earth's axis is also shown (top centre).
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