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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364. BahaHurican
9:57 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
359.

I'd say this year seems to be one where a June storm might be likely, except for that very low ITCZ.

Nobody responded to that question about why it's so low in the ATL, did they? My theory is that it is being affected by the far southeastern position of the AB high. Any other possibilities?
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363. chessrascal
9:59 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
hey everyone check out my blog for satellite imagery and updates... when there is something to update lol
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362. Weather456
9:58 PM AST on June 05, 2008
359. StSimonsIslandGAGuy 9:57 PM AST on June 05, 2008

Also...its late next week which is pretty far out and unreliable. For all we know, the GFS could drop that area between now and Monday. Maybe 72 hrs, when confidence is high.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
361. pottery
9:54 PM AST on June 05, 2008
456. Thanks again.I will keep an eye southward, when things warrant that.
An interesting wave off Africa again it seems. This one has some peculiarities, according to the Discussion at about 5:pm. Have not checked it since then.
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360. pearlandaggie
1:57 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
349. nevermind! wrong month! my bad....
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358. pearlandaggie
1:56 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
357. boy, isn't that the truth...the waves make the surfers happy but pi$$ off the fishermen!!

LOL

/i'm starting to resent surfboards! LOL
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357. OUSHAWN
1:53 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
Pearland...it has been quite windy here for what seems like forever. If it wasn't for all the damn sunshine we've been having I would swear we've been going through the longest tropical storm in history...lol
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356. Drakoen
1:55 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
LOL i guess I am the only one looking at the GFS...
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29886
355. pearlandaggie
1:53 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
349. i won't mention Dennis and Emily...!!!
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354. pottery
9:51 PM AST on June 05, 2008
Patrap, thanks for the hot-towers video.
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352. Weather456
9:49 PM AST on June 05, 2008
341. pottery 9:42 PM AST on June 05, 2008
456, Thanks for the explanation. I can see I'm going to have to start observing the south. hem., to begin to understand the northern one.
I thought all this would get easier with time............But.........


The Southern affects the Northern Hemisphere and especially if those effects are wind surges. Wind surges from the Southern Hemipshere increase the liklihood of tropical cyclone formation in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, one factor that played a role in the cyclogenesis of TS Alma (other than MJO, TWave influences) was a surge of southerly winds from the South Pacific High.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
350. OUSHAWN
1:52 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
Haven't even looked at the GFS...what is it showing?
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348. pearlandaggie
1:49 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
this is the crap i'm talking about...unusually rough for this time of year when no TS is lurking in the GOM...
Tonight
Southeast winds 20 to 25 knots. Seas 6 to 8 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Friday
Southeast winds around 20 knots. Seas 5 to 7 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Friday Night
Southeast winds around 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Saturday
Southeast winds around 20 knots. Seas 4 to 6 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Saturday Night
Southeast winds around 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Sunday
Southeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Sunday Night
Southeast winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Monday
Southeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. A chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Monday Night
South winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 4 feet. A slight chance of showers.
Tuesday
Southeast winds 10 to 15 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. A chance of showers and thunderstorms.
Tuesday Night
South winds 15 to 20 knots. Seas 3 to 5 feet. A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms.
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347. Drakoen
1:46 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
343. OUSHAWN 1:44 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
Getting back to the tropics...I'm going to say we will have something to watch in the BOC by early next week. Taking bets...lol.


I second that, only I put it of until late next week. I thought I was the only one looking at the GFS or maybe people don't have much interest in Texas.
Member Since: October 28, 2006 Posts: 57 Comments: 29886
346. pearlandaggie
1:46 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
anyone have an idea when that tight gradient over the western GOM is supposed to relax? geez! it's been SO windy here.......
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344. pottery
9:43 PM AST on June 05, 2008
Hooo's the oldest Old firt on this blog anyway? I am 60 in August. Gonna celebrate with a Tropical High on that day too. LOL
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343. OUSHAWN
1:42 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
Getting back to the tropics...I'm going to say we will have something to watch in the BOC by early next week. Taking bets...lol.
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342. BahaHurican
9:38 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
330. StSimonsIslandGAGuy 9:30 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
I am not too worried about a hurricane hitting the GA coast, we haven't had a major hurricane make landfall in GA since Oct 2, 1898. It was a Cat 4 though......


I'd look at that steering map again, and then hope the high forms up differently. If we get something solidified like that, anywhere from the Keys to the Outer Banks can be fair game.

Besides, after 110 years, u guys are more than overdue . . . lol
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341. pottery
9:35 PM AST on June 05, 2008
456, Thanks for the explanation. I can see I'm going to have to start observing the south. hem., to begin to understand the northern one.
I thought all this would get easier with time............But.........
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339. pearlandaggie
1:36 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
336. you ARE young, i'll give you that! LOL
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338. fire831rescue
1:35 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
332, I'm 29. On the verge of being an old man... LOL.
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336. fire831rescue
1:31 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
328, I tried to cheat and get it higher but alas it only goes so far... LOL. Yes, 130 confirmed. It went up 6 points since I was 7. In 3rd grade I was tested and was at 124. In 6th I was tested again and was around 127. And the funny part is that people take me for a complete dumb@$$ but I'm far from it.
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334. pearlandaggie
1:33 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
332. you're not saying it right...in east Texas, it's "faar"! hahaha
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333. pearlandaggie
1:32 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
330. now you went and said it...you'd better knock on some wood or your head or something!

LOL
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331. presslord
9:29 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
Pat...Is that 3 doors down on the right...or 3 doors down on the left?
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329. extreme236
1:29 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
324.

I think the worst person in the world segment awards Karl Rove that award at least once a week lol

But yea Patrap is right...the Politico is just a click away lol
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328. pearlandaggie
1:27 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
320. only 130??? slacker! LOL

/just kidding
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327. extreme236
1:27 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
O'reilly's show is no-spin whenever the topic isn't about liberals and conservatives...which is pretty much the conversation all the time lol
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325. BahaHurican
9:19 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
Evening, everybody.

262. hahaguy 8:01 PM EDT on June 05, 2008

Thank god it is not august or september


It's graphics like this that scare the heebee jeebies out of me . . . That's about the worst possible setup for the Bahamas, Florida, and the GA coast . . .
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323. Weather456
9:19 PM AST on June 05, 2008
306. pottery 9:18 PM AST on June 05, 2008
Weather456, Post 256 Re: ITCZ
Yes I understand that, but what is beating me is the reason for that.
Why are the N/E trades dominating ? What factors drive this direction between N/E and S/E trades?
Thanks for any help here


The Saint Helen's High in the South ATL drives the SE Trades and the Bermuda-Azores High drive the NE Trades. Any flunctuations in the strengths of these highs cause flunctuations in the winds. The passage of mid-latitude frontal trofs breaks down the high temporily and then it rebuilds after the passage.
Member Since: July 24, 2005 Posts: 407 Comments: 19076
320. fire831rescue
1:20 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
It always turns into a 55 gallon drum. Don't know why. Must be a touchy subject. Funny thing is, even if we are the problem, the damage done would take at least a century or more to fix and stabilize. But in my opinion, there is more to what is going on than just humans burning fuels. It also has a lot to do with what Earth itself is doing. Orbit and axis tilt DO have a LOT to do with climate change. It would be foolish to say that humans are the sole cause. Also, notice we aren't having a lot of sunspots. Hmmm... Not spots means hotter sun surface. And as I've said before, as the sun ages, the surface gets hotter or coller depending on what is burned as fuel, whether it be hydrogen or helium. But, you know, what do I know. I'm just some young guy with an IQ of 130 and don't know anything... LOL.
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319. extreme236
1:22 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
310.

Olbermann is definatly partisan for sure...you can tell just by looking at the network he is on lol

I doubt he is a centrist...you can tell he isn't when his worst person in the world segment always features a Republican lol
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318. presslord
9:22 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
...all of this just 'cause I said I have a thing for Campbell Brown....
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317. Patrap
8:22 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
LSU ESL Site.Link

A hurricane's "hot towers" can increase its intensity by adding power to boost the storm's heat engine. For the first time, research meteorologists have run complex simulations of these phenomena using a very fine temporal resolution. They have combined this new simulation data with satellite observations to study the innerworking of the "hot towers" in never-before-seen detail.

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 420 Comments: 127543
314. tallahasseecyclone
1:22 AM GMT on June 06, 2008
Its only free for this hurricane season. Afterwards...i think u have to buy it. Yiu can try it out since its free this hurricane season and u wont be using it much during the off-season.

not unless all of the storms are late bloomers :)
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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.