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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514. NorthxCakalaky
3:38 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
COLUMBIA, N.C. -- Smoke from an eastern North Carolina wildfire is causing school delays in some nearby counties while firefighters hope light winds may help them contain the growing blazes.

School delays were announced in three counties. The National Weather Service issued a dense smoke advisory until 9 a.m. Friday for Martin, Pitt, Washington, Tyrrell, Beaufort and mainland Hyde counties.

The fire has burned more than 28,000 acres on the Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge and on adjacent private lands.

It started on private land Sunday with a lightning strike and spread onto the refuge Tuesday.
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513. catastropheadjuster
3:30 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
presslord, yes i seen them post.
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512. cchsweatherman
11:28 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Can't use the CIMSS maps right now since they're well over 9 hours old now. Last updates occured at 0300UTC.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
511. catastropheadjuster
3:29 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
DDR that wave does look healthy. wonder if it can amount to anything. I guess probaly not this time of year. with upper level winds,SST.
Sheri
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510. presslord
11:25 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
have read thru most the blog and the only thing being talked about is Nuclear energy plants,lightning,and other stuff

487, 483, 507, 460, 462, 465, 477......
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509. DDR
3:23 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Healthy looking tropical wave
around 55W should bring rain to the southern windwards tonight!
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508. catastropheadjuster
3:19 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Is there anything going on in the tropics, i have read thru most the blog and the only thing being talked about is Nuclear energy plants,lightning,and other stuff. Just wondering.
Sheri
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507. Buhdog
3:18 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Thanks for the summary Franck....

If we could harness a lightning bolt....that would go a long way to solving energy. Is there not somehting like 1.21 jigga watts in bolt of lightning? LOL!!
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506. Inyo
3:14 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
The main problem with Nuclear power is disposal of waste... aside from that the hazards are probably significantly lower than that of greenhouse warming
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505. nrtiwlnvragn
11:12 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
CIMSS now working
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504. LakeShadow
3:03 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Flood, see post 458..Toyota is building a hydrogen fuel cell/ electric hybrid that increases efficiency dramatically.

and again...if only the "squares" could see the potential in the manufacturing of hemp products, they would see the benefits far outway the "so-called" liabilities.
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503. chessrascal
10:04 AM EST on June 06, 2008
The East Pacific is really starting to sizzle!
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502. presslord
11:03 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
495. cchsweatherman 10:59 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Anybody have any clue why there has been so many computer malfunctions occuring during the first week in Hurricane Season? We had QuikSCAT just go MIA for a 36-hour period about three days ago, the GFS had computer glitch problems, and now the CIMSS site is down. Talk about timing.
Action: | Ignore User

Global warming.....????????????
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501. runningfromthestorms
2:49 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Lakeshadow - Nuclear energy plants aren't what they used to be - waste is reused and the cooling system is remarkably different - safety is 100% better - that's what Europe is now, Nuclear. Discover magazine had a great article about a month ago that outlined how the process had changed and how far behind America is on our Energy policy. I would recommend everyone find that article or one similar and read up on the changes in how plants operate - it changed my mind on Nuclear Power as an option.
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500. MasterForecaster
2:05 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Morning everyone,

When are we going to see more favorable conditions for development? A few weeks?
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499. chessrascal
9:59 AM EST on June 06, 2008
Morning all! That wave looks like it is getting somewhat more organized. For satellite imagery Link
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498. franck
3:00 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Mjolnir...Jerome Silberman still benefits from nitrogen fixation in the soil. Unfortunately, Peter Boyle is now part of said soil.
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497. moonlightcowboy
9:52 AM CDT on June 06, 2008
Photobucket

...up $6 bl, ugh!
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496. Floodman
2:55 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
468. presslord

We should have been doing this all along; the problem with people is that we tend to put all of our eggs in one basket...

I'd love to see us getting away from fossil fuels, but the issue has always been that the return in usable energy for energy expended for oil has been somethig like 40-1; biofuels like ethanol, at best, return 4-1, and in most cases more like 1.5-1...
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495. cchsweatherman
10:57 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Anybody have any clue why there has been so many computer malfunctions occuring during the first week in Hurricane Season? We had QuikSCAT just go MIA for a 36-hour period about three days ago, the GFS had computer glitch problems, and now the CIMSS site is down. Talk about timing.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
494. WPBHurricane05
10:50 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
i like you all to see this blog do you like high oil???? i sure dont

Link


I think the guy in the blog you posted, is making fun of George W. Bush.
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493. cchsweatherman
10:55 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
492. Tazmanian 10:53 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
all so when i was watching the new weather ch HD it looks like there some kind of a little low spining a round off the coast of FL moveing W


Coordinates please? There is a mid-to-upper level low spinning north of Hispanola that was producing some heavy rainfall for the past few days over the island. Models take this low towards South Florida in about 5 days and increase the rain chances here.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
492. Tazmanian
7:51 AM PDT on June 06, 2008
all so when i was watching the new weather ch HD it looks like there some kind of a little low spining a round off the coast of FL moveing W
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
490. Tazmanian
7:47 AM PDT on June 06, 2008
i think we may have 91L soon if this where to keep up
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
489. Tazmanian
7:43 AM PDT on June 06, 2008
i like you all to see this blog do you like high oil???? i sure dont

Link
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115244
488. cchsweatherman
10:43 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Too bad the CIMSS site is down right now. It could help so much in analyzing this tropical low right now. Based upon the latest Water Vapor imagery, if this thing wants to develop, it will have another 24 to 48 hours to do so, although it would occur slowly.
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487. TampaSpin
10:38 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
In know wind shear is shown to be rather high but, this things is really getting rather organized.
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486. weathermanwannabe
10:31 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
477. StormW 10:21 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Upon further analyisis, the way the A/B high will be situated, it would appear to me (and looking at steering patterns for the next 144 hours), the high will be fairly deep into the Atlantic/Caribbean. So, my take on this, is that anything that forms above 20N may be swept out to sea...anything south of 20N (mainly 15N, southward, may be long tracked, and into the Caribbean, or between the islands and the U.S. If you get the chance, check it out and let me know what your thoughts are.


Thanks Storm and I think you may be right on the money......The "lowrider" waves may present the greatest threat to the Caribbean/Conus this year during the peak of the CV season......(of course we are assuming that the A/B high will "set" near the current positions, and, this of course will change a little from week to week in terms of positions and intensity).............Do you see any posibility of a very strong "ring of fire" high accross the SE US which could "merge" with the BH and cause some of the storms to track accross the Caribbean basin like Felix and Dean last year?............Who knows, right?......
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485. presslord
10:38 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
cchs...Thanks for that graphic...
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484. LakeShadow
2:30 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
If anything, perhaps the purpose of the article is a means to entice the private sector (such as oil profiteers) to view this as an opportunity to exploit this "global warming" issue; as a means to make their money off of alternate energy technologies rather than in oil production. I can imagine Mr. J.Q. OilTycoon looking at that big Trillion dollar figure with stars in his eyes, wondering how he can grab a piece of that pie. Perhaps this particular spin on the issue is a good thing in that way?
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483. cchsweatherman
10:27 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Upon closer observation from the satellite imagery for the tropical wave, it appears that there is some rather impressive organization that has occured now that the wave has some deep convection. Right now, there is some rather impressive inflow to the system. Just look at the graphic below.
Photobucket
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482. franck
2:29 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Cities draw lightning due to things like high voltage electrical suppliers, metal-laden structures of significant height, etc., but the consequent nitrogen fixation through lightning does little good where there is no soil to benefit.
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481. TampaSpin
10:32 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
478. franck 10:27 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
buhdog...nitrogen is inert in the atmosphere, and useless unless bonded to oxygen. The atmospheric combustion in a lightning strike helps nitrogen bond to form compounds beneficial to organic growth.


Put up a lightning rod on top of your head to grow hair.....i'm a millionaire......lol
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480. weathermanwannabe
10:30 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
476. presslord 10:18 AM EDT on June 06, 2008 LOL......But maybe it is "really" happening this time...............
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479. NEwxguy
2:24 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
great analysis Storm,look forward to those as the season heats up
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478. franck
2:23 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
buhdog...nitrogen is inert in the atmosphere, and useless unless bonded to oxygen. The atmospheric combustion in a lightning strike helps nitrogen bond to form compounds beneficial to organic growth.
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476. presslord
10:16 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
"With the rapidly approaching depletion of oil/oil based energy in the next 10-20 years"

but...they were saying EXACTLY the same thing when I was in college (77-81)...and we haven't run out...again, I'm not arguing a position here...just trying to make sense of it all.....
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475. nrtiwlnvragn
10:17 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Good resource for acronyms, which is included in the Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting
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474. weathermanwannabe
10:06 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
468. presslord 10:04 AM EDT on June 06, 2008...With the rapidly approaching depletion of oil/oil based energy in the next 10-20 years, and so many economies in the world based upon oil production to power their economies, it will take a global effort to avert a worldwide economic catastrophe/collapse in the very near term....Good to see that folks are taking this issue very seriously and we should expect to see plenty of initiatives, perhaps headed out of the United Nations, in the coming years to address (the US would do well if we really spearheaded these efforts and "retooled" our economy, and education for our young people and scientists, in this direction)....
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473. presslord
10:12 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
Lake...didn't see your link....frankly, I don't know what to make of it...I spent 12 years working on Capitol Hill...and usually hold pretty strong opinions on things...but with this issue, I'm just all over the map...

That's why I kinda enjoy the discussions (when it doesn't get vitriolic) on the topic here...it all goes into my head as I try to figger it out....
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472. Buhdog
2:03 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
461. franck 1:52 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
You don't want to be around when nitrogen fixation occurs on your lawn. That's mostly for fields and forests


Could you explain a little more? What do you mean fixation?
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471. DaytonaBeachWatcher
10:12 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
it really doesnt matter how we feel... it'll never happen
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470. LakeShadow
2:08 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
presslord...see post 454. I posted a link to that article.

What do you make of it? most of those costs go into nuclear power development...dont know how I feel about that...
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469. presslord
10:06 AM EDT on June 06, 2008
ah....that's trillion.....with a "T"......
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467. fmbill
2:01 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
DocBen...I didn't even think of those things.

I remember it took me awhile to figure out what "ROFLMAO" was. Fortunate, Goggle was a big help.
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466. DocBen
1:58 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Squid - one thing that could be useful from time to time would be 'emoticons' so if I saw something (especially about a fellow blogger) as a joke it gets taken that way.

:)

cch - looks interesting. How about that one over in the SW carib?
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465. cchsweatherman
9:55 AM EDT on June 06, 2008



Just checking in right now to post the latest satellite close-ups on the oft-mentioned tropical wave moving towards the lower lesser Antilles. Must say that the wave looks quite impressive, but with the upper-level winds in the 30kt. range, further tropical development is unlikely.
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464. fmbill
1:57 PM GMT on June 06, 2008
Don't forget dmax & dmin.
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About

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