North Pole: imminent stratospheric warming?

A meteorological phenomenon that could impact Europe has developed around the North Pole. Stratospheric warming is likely to drop temperatures sharply, scientists warn.

Is a serious cold wave threatening Europe? As Science Alert claims, researchers at the universities of Bristol, Exeter and Bath are warning of a sudden drop in temperatures. This warning is linked to the appearance of a meteorological phenomenon called "stratospheric warming" at the level of the North Pole. An event whose consequences could affect the Old Continent in the coming days. To reach this conclusion, scientists from the universities mentioned above used a prediction model that they developed themselves. It turns out that stratospheric warming takes place 10 to 50 km in the stratosphere.

North Pole: imminent stratospheric warming?

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In general, this increases the risk of colder than normal weather with a probability of 66%.

Cold generated by intense heat

Still according to the explanations of Science Alert, this unusual cold is the result of a sudden rise in temperatures which affects high altitude winds, reaching 40 ° C. Due to the onset of this heat wave which usually lasts between one and two days, the eddies undergo rapid changes. In particular, they can change course or separate into several, creating multiple vortices.

These changes are obviously not without consequences. Their effects are even devastating. In 2018, for example, a sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) event pushed frigid polar air from Siberia towards Europe, leading to transport paralysis and a number of deaths.

Another hypothesis

However, it should be emphasized that stratospheric warming does not necessarily guarantee the subsequent appearance of a cold snap. It simply increases the chances of such an event happening. The temperature and duration of the cold actually depend on atmospheric pressure. Thus, two years ago, the warming of the stratospheric polar winds preceded one of the warmest winter days recorded in the Channel.

Either way, Richard Hall, a meteorologist at the University of Bristol, recommends that we prepare for the worst. “While extremely cold weather is not a certainty, around two-thirds of SSWs have a significant impact on surface weather conditions ,” he said, reports