Jet stream moved northwards 270 miles in 22 years; climate change to blame?

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:11 PM GMT on June 05, 2008

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Climate change is forcing the jet stream higher and closer to the pole in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, according research published this April in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. In their paper, "Historical trends in the jet streams", researchers Cristina Archer and Ken Caldeira of Stanford's Carnegie Institution of Washington analyzed data from 1979-2001, and found that the Northern Hemisphere jet stream moved northward at approximately 125 miles per decade (270 miles during the 22-year period of the study). The jet moved higher by 5-23 meters during this period, and the wind speeds decreased by about 1 mph. Archer and Caldeira's study confirms other research showing a poleward movement of the jet stream in recent decades (Fu et al., 2006; Hu and Fu, 2007). All of these changes are consistent with the behavior of the jet stream predicted by global warming theory. For example, Lorenz and DeWeaver (2007) found poleward shifts of the jet stream by 2100 in the forecasts of 15 climate models used to formulate the "official" word on climate, the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) report. However, the authors were careful not to say how much of this shift in the jet stream was due to natural causes versus human-caused climate change. It is unknown if the jet stream has natural decades-long changes in its path that could account for the observed poleward shift.


Figure 1. The jet stream is located where the strongest winds at the top of the troposphere are found (35,000-45,000 feet high, 200-300 mb in pressure).

Archer and Caldeira note that "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." They don't specify what these changes might be. There is very little research that has been done suggesting how changes in the jet stream might affect hurricane formation and strength. One effect we may begin to see in coming decades is a reduction and/or delay in the number of hurricanes that recurve northward out to sea. Recurvature occurs when a hurricane begins to "feel" the westerly winds of the jet stream. As the jet stream continues to move northward and weaken as the globe warms, we can expect that hurricanes moving though the Caribbean will be less likely to recurve, resulting in more hurricane strikes in Mexico and Central America. Unfortunately, the quality of the Atlantic hurricane database for non-U.S. landfalls is not very good, and it will be several decades before we will be able to tell if the number of hurricane landfalls in Mexico and Central America is increasing due to a poleward shift in the jet stream.

References
Fu, Q., C. M. Johanson, J. M. Wallace, and T. Reichler (2006), Enhanced mid-latitude tropospheric warming in satellite measurements, Science, 312, 1179, doi:10.1126/science.1125566.

Hu, Y., and Q. Fu (2007), Observed poleward expansion of the Hadley circulation since 1979, Atmos. Chem. Phys. Disc., 7, 9367.9384.

Lorenz, D. J., and E. T. DeWeaver (2007), Tropopause height and zonal wind response to global warming in the IPCC scenario integrations, J. Geophys. Res., 112, D10119, doi:10.1029/2006JD008087.

Jeff Masters

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1114. Levi32
6:18 PM AKDT on June 07, 2008
1101. leftovers 6:04 PM AKDT on June 07, 2008

I think that's definitely something worth keeping an eye on next week. That wave is going to end up in the Gulf of Mexico with a favorable upper air pattern. It's something that may not happen at all, but I've learned to pay attention to the low-lying waves that slip all the way across the Atlantic until they encounter favorable conditions in the Caribbean/GOM.
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1112. fire831rescue
2:18 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Ocean Springs isn't much cooler, however I did notice today wasn't as humid. And the wind wasn't coming off the gulf. It was actually nice for a change. I saw in the forecast where there's a 30% chance of rain come Monday. I can't wait. Maybe I'll wash the truck and make it a 100% chance... LOL.
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1110. fire831rescue
2:14 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Well, I'm here. Wish we had some rain down this way... South MS is getting hot too early in the year. Feels like dog days already. And it's still the beginning of June!
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1107. fire831rescue
2:13 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
I think I killed the blog, StormW... LOL.
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1106. sporteguy03
2:10 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Sad to see Jim McKay pass away he was much revered in his industry as John Hope was in Weather.
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1105. fire831rescue
2:12 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
How's it going, stormw?
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1103. fire831rescue
2:06 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Ok, I'm done with the climate change issues. I'm not bringing it up anymore. It's only weather and tropical discussion from now on for me.
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1102. BahaHurican
10:05 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1101. I'm surprised we haven't seen a reduction of shear in that area, leading to some development. That area has been moisture laden.
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1100. fire831rescue
1:52 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Ok, ya'll. I concede. Climate change is linked to human activity............................................................................................ .............................................................................................. BUT ONLY A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF IT! Sometimes to see what's going on inside the box, you have to look at the outside of the box, as well... BOX = EARTH
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1098. BahaHurican
9:56 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
cchs,

I'm wondering if any convection will build overnight with that ULL. We could use whatever it decides to bring as it passes through . . .
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1097. pearlandaggie
1:35 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
1069. here ya go Link

Link

Link
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1095. BahaHurican
9:25 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1093. jphurricane2006 9:19 PM EDT on June 07, 2008

This is in the Coral Sea area, isn't it? u can see it on JMA's SE quadrant imagery . . .
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1094. cchsweatherman
9:19 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1091. JFV 9:18 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
You ready for August and September Weatherman?
Good evening all by the way!


Locked - Loaded - Ready to Fire
How about you JFV? Be ready for some more widespread rains over Miami-Dade and Broward tomorrow and Monday as the ULL moves into the area providing a catalyst for possible strong to severe storms.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1092. cchsweatherman
9:15 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
ULL Feature


Based upon the latest observations, the ULL continues to remain strong in the upper levels with some slight surface reflection. Over the past couple hours, it appears that it may be attracting some thunderstorm activity from Eastern Cuba as the convection over this area has started moving towards the ULL. It will continue moving towards South and Central Florida tomorrow and will enhance rain chances and could spark some strong to severe storms over the lower peninsula. Can't wait for some substantial rainfall here.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1089. BahaHurican
9:09 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1084. jphurricane2006 9:02 PM EDT on June 07, 2008

did you see the interesting system in the south pacific?


Whoa . . . that's pretty late season for anything in that area. Is it considered warm-core, do u know?


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1088. cchsweatherman
9:11 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
Invest 92E


During the day, this invest has caught my attention as it has become much better organized with some increased convection and well-defined low-level circulation. It has some good potential for further development and I'm forecasting for this to become Tropical Storm Boris in the coming days depending upon the track the system takes.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
1087. BahaHurican
9:03 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1082. Baybuddy 8:58 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
Oh,how ya doin baha?


Hey buddy. I'm not afraid of a little difference of opinion, surly or otherwise. Wha'd u do, take kiddies? I can imagine being in a theatre FULL of little kids watching that panda movie. Sheesh . . . .
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1086. Drakoen
1:08 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
That area around the Gulf of Tehuanpec is now an invest on SSD.
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1083. Baybuddy
1:00 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Sorry if I sounded surly. Just got back from kung fu panda. I was the only grown up in the theatre.
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1082. Baybuddy
12:56 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Oh,how ya doin baha?
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1081. Baybuddy
12:54 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Nobody seems willing or even able to think outside the box or move beyond the traditional, well-tried way of doing things when it comes to energy production. And Americans have been such innovators in the past. . .

That is crap. This is, if nothing else, a market driven economy. If you build a better mousetrap the world will indeed beat a path to your door. People keep complaining that big oil needs to examine alternative energy sources...Why should they? They are oil companies. Besides.... oil companies are publicly held. They have shareholders, almost everyone who has money invested IS a shareholder. So the oil companies are supposed to wait and not produce while we devolop another, better fuel? Oh... anyone notice that Cuba is allowing China to drill off the coast of Florida? China is drilling closer to CONUS than the american companies are allowed to. JEEZ.
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1080. southbeachdude
12:43 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Looks like the Miami area might be getting some rain tonight....Go Canes (ESPN)
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1079. help4u
12:37 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
OBAMA WILL LEVEL THE PLAYING FIELD.The world will be a peaceful place also.
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1078. BahaHurican
8:26 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
I genuinely believe in Americans developing energy systems that are not "hijack-prone". While lines of trade and communication are vital to the progress of humans everywhere, no one group of people should be able to FORCE their ethics - or prices - on another to the point where it puts the second group's viability at risk. Religious and political considerations aside, the average oil baron is only concerned about the profit margin, and he/she will charge what it seems possible to get away with. With many of the oil-producing areas of the world under non-American control, it's a necessity that every option for re-gaining energy autonomy be explored.

I also think the oil-rich tycoons do everything feasible to prevent techological advancements which THEY do not control from taking place. Part of the reason such a big business owner is unlikely to support a leader like Obama is because he seems focused on reducing the amount of control and autonomy the business owner has.
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1076. moonlightcowboy
7:19 PM CDT on June 07, 2008
1070. Yep, Taz. That energy has been looming for some time now, and may well likely finally find an outlet.
Member Since: July 9, 2006 Posts: 184 Comments: 29610
1075. BahaHurican
8:05 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1071. SunriseSteeda 7:53 PM EDT on June 07, 2008

Baha, we just got a nice shower as well (NW Ft Lauderdale suburbs)... these came in off the ocean, it looks like (from your direction). Not exactly our normal late afternoon storms, which will be rolling in from the Everglades (from the west).


We tend to get stuff frm the NW at this time of year, so these storms are a bit unusual for us as well. However, given current conditions, there's no rain that's bad rain . . . :o)

Just hope my power doesn't cut out.
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1074. sporteguy03
12:01 AM GMT on June 08, 2008
Nobody seems willing or even able to think outside the box or move beyond the traditional, well-tried way of doing things when it comes to energy production. And Americans have been such innovators in the past. . .


Baha,
Unfortunately many have tried and come up with solutions however they have been put down by big businesses that control the market. If corporations are open to new ideas then progress might ensue.
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1073. BahaHurican
7:59 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
1070. Tazmanian 7:50 PM EDT on June 07, 2008

looks like you all well be playing with 92E with in the next few days


I was thinking we might. That area has been disturbed for a while and was looking quite vigorous this morning .. . .
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1072. BahaHurican
7:49 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
On the energy crunch, people who don't think it's weather related aren't paying full attention.

Certainly I don't think energy use patterns are just going to change in an instant. Remember how long after gasoline engines were available and affordable people continued to use animal power? This change isn't going to happen in a few years. Secondly, I don't think any one alternative source of energy is going to cut it. If you are going to have an energy farm, it's going to have to contain both solar and wind collectors to be genuinely effecient, a concept that is entirely and easiliy achieveable even with today's bulky collectors. Thirdly, collection methods are going to have to change. For example, what about using the wind power generated by moving a car to begin with to help power the continued movement of the car? What about covering cars, planes, buses, trains entirely with solar panels / solar collectors instead of paint? Hydroelectric energy has possibilities we aren't currently exploiting.

One problem the American public is facing right now is not so much a crisis of energy as a crisis of imagination. Nobody seems willing or even able to think outside the box or move beyond the traditional, well-tried way of doing things when it comes to energy production. And Americans have been such innovators in the past. . .
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1071. SunriseSteeda
11:45 PM GMT on June 07, 2008

Baha, we just got a nice shower as well (NW Ft Lauderdale suburbs)... these came in off the ocean, it looks like (from your direction). Not exactly our normal late afternoon storms, which will be rolling in from the Everglades (from the west).

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1070. Tazmanian
4:47 PM PDT on June 07, 2008
ABPZ20 KNHC 072332
TWOEP
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 PM PDT SAT JUN 7 2008

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS EXTENDING FROM THE GULF OF TEHUANTEPEC
SOUTHWESTWARD FOR SEVERAL HUNDRED MILES ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A WEAK
LOW PRESSURE AREA. THIS SYSTEM HAS BECOME A LITTLE BETTER
ORGANIZED DURING THE PAST 24 HOURS...AND SLOW DEVELOPMENT
IS POSSIBLE AS IT DRIFTS NORTHWESTWARD.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.


looks like you all well be playing with 92E with in the next few days
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1069. msphar
11:33 PM GMT on June 07, 2008
Pearl - do you have some links to good sunspot info/science ?
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1068. BahaHurican
7:22 PM EDT on June 07, 2008
Evening all.

We're getting a bit of a surprise shower here in SW Nassau, which a real pleasure. It looks like a line of showers from the SE. Could be just from daytime heating, but looks more likely to be the precurser of the URL's arrival. I really didn't expect that spinner to move THAT fast. I thought we signs of it by tomorrow midday, but it seems the western edge of it is already approaching Abaco and Eleuthera. It's looking to be a potentially interesting evening . . .
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1067. Drakoen
11:32 PM GMT on June 07, 2008
I'm still here....
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1066. pearlandaggie
11:27 PM GMT on June 07, 2008
poof! everyone is gone! :)
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1065. Drakoen
11:04 PM GMT on June 07, 2008
I expect the SOI to come up as well with lower pressure over Darwin than Tahiti with the upward motion of the MJO over Indonesia.
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1064. pearlandaggie
11:01 PM GMT on June 07, 2008
1062. LOL!

Anthropogenic Global Whining! :)
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.