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NASA Satellite Image Shows Polar Vortex Spreading Frigid Air Over United States

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A polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air covering the Earth's poles. It always exists in the poles and is often linked to outbreaks of Arctic air in the United States during winter.  ( NASA/JPL-Caltech AIRS Project )

Parts of the United States are experiencing frigid weather as a result of the polar vortex. NASA satellites captured the moments as the polar vortex was moving from Canada to the Midwest United States.

Frigid Weather

The U.S. Midwest has been experiencing unusually frigid weather these past weeks, and it’s because of the polar vortex. In many areas, temperatures have dropped to below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and the weather has caused service disruptions, power outages, school cancellations, air travel disruptions, and even several deaths.

Using NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on the Aqua satellite, the agency captured the polar vortex as it was moving from Canada to the Midwestern United States from Jan. 20 to 29. The purple and blue show the coldest temperatures from -40 degrees Fahrenheit to -10 degrees Fahrenheit, and the image shows how the coldest areas are moving southward into the United States.

So far, the U.S, Midwest has been experiencing the lowest temperatures in years.

NASA's AIRS instrument captured the polar vortex from Jan. 20 to 29. It captured the cold air moving southwards to the Midwest United States from Canada.
(Photo : NASA/JPL-Caltech AIRS Project) NASA's AIRS instrument captured the polar vortex from Jan. 20 to 29. It captured the cold air moving southward to the Midwest United States from Canada.

Polar Vortex

The polar vortex is a large area of cold air and low pressure at both poles of the Earth. It is always in the poles but tends to weaken during the summer and strengthen during winter. In the United States, the polar vortex is linked to outbreaks of Arctic air such as the one that occurred in January 2014.

According to experts, the Arctic warming leads to weaker jet stream, which in turn leads to extreme winters. As the global climate continues to grow warmer, there will only be more such extreme weathers.

That said, the polar vortex is not a new concept, and neither is it confined to the United States. In fact, some parts of Europe and Asia also experience cold surges from the polar vortex. As such, there is no need to be alarmed when one hears of the polar vortex, but instead it would be wise to prepare for colder temperatures in preparation for any type of dangerous winter weather.

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