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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164. 69Viking
2:21 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
162. pearlandaggie

Oops, my bad, I meant Climate Change!
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163. NEwxguy
7:20 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
160. Floodman 7:18 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
151. NEwxguy

I'm all over that...I'll get a bottle, where do we meet

considering the weather up here,I'll be down there.
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162. pearlandaggie
7:18 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
159. there you go again...you JUST HAD to say it, didn't you? LOL

just kidding
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161. franck
7:18 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Oh
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160. Floodman
7:17 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
151. NEwxguy

I'm all over that...I'll get a bottle, where do we meet?
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159. 69Viking
2:16 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
147. NEwxguy

Global warming in full swing obviously! LOL!
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158. Floodman
7:14 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
152. pearlandaggie

Yep, we're under a wind advisory until tomorrow morning at 9AM; I imagine a have about my friend in Lubbocks yard atr my house by now. You have to remember I grew up in MO, lots of humidity, then I moved to Louisiana, even more humidity, and now DFW; I'll tell you, I like the lower humidity a lot (summer is not my favorite season).
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157. Randyman
2:10 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
KWCH in Kansas has a live stream right now regarding the severe weather...Link
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156. 69Viking
2:11 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
143. smmcdavid 2:05

I see red X, so what was it?
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155. NEwxguy
7:15 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
153. OSUWXGUY 7:13 PM GMT on June 05, 2008

LOL,nope same thing today.But don't feel too bad for me,heat is coming for this weekend in a big way.
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154. Floodman
7:11 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
143. smmcdavid

LOL, smm...I saw that sign at a Shell station here about a week ago!
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153. OSUWXGUY
7:11 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Did you just copy and paste that from yesterday??? Lol. I remember feeling bad yesterday for you with 59 and drizzle...and now more of the same.

147. NEwxguy 7:10 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Still waiting for some heat


Light Rain Fog/Mist

59F
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152. pearlandaggie
7:09 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
145. lots of wind the last couple of days have made it somewhat pleasant. i try not to complain about humidity down here. when i lived in Plano, the tips of my fingers would be split open 6 months out of the year due to low humidity....that hasn't happened down here!

it seems like there has been a lot of wind lately. i sure hope that it calms down pretty soon so that we can get offshore and so some fishing.

the closest we've gotten to 100 is about 94 so far this year!
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151. NEwxguy
7:10 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Hey,Flood,a little johnny walker works pretty good too!!
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150. 69Viking
2:07 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
126. Floodman

LOL! That was great!
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149. OSUWXGUY
7:08 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
That's pretty good SMM!

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148. Floodman
7:09 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
137. NEwxguy

I try, NEwx...blame it on my central Missourah upbringing...LOL
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147. NEwxguy
7:09 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Still waiting for some heat


Light Rain Fog/Mist

59°F
(15°C) Humidity: 93 %
Wind Speed: NE 7 MPH
Barometer: 30.09" (1020.3 mb)
Dewpoint: 57°F (14°C)
Visibility: 1.50
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146. Floodman
7:07 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
jp, I'll get you a vicodin...the only thing I've found that works on a GW headache
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145. Floodman
7:05 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
144. pearlandaggie

We've been playing around 100 the past three days or so...thank god the humidity came down some. Today isn't too bad; it feels to be in the mid 80s right now (I just came in from outside). You're in Pearland? I imagine it's pretty thick down there, huh?
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144. pearlandaggie
7:00 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
how's the heat up there, floodman? it's been warm here (but i guess that's expected for June :) )
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142. Floodman
7:00 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
135. jphurricane2006

I agree that some of the evidence presented has been crap science, but some of it looks pretty accurate...an issue that could have the effect that this one could shouldn't be ignored. As for spending money for studies and doing the math, we're spending money on things that make me sick, things with no other virtue than making someone with too much money more money...but again, wht the hell...the bottom line is money. Greed will kill a guy, you know?
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141. NEwxguy
7:02 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
jp,I'll give you some of my extrastrength excedrin
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140. EvPv
6:39 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Venezuela pays 12¢ per gallon for gasoline according to an AP graphic. Sales of SUVs are climbing there as well.
As far as how their system is doing, that discussion is pretty much not meant for a weather blog.
BUT while I'm at it, read notes from OPEC meetings and if it is not Iran then it is Venezuela asking for no production increase or arguing for a production cut. Just asking for it, pushes up crude prices, which helps subsidize their pump price.

Remember when Iran raised pump prices a year or so ago...there were protests and fires lit at gas stations.

So I guess, I would ask, when making a comment along those lines, read up on it, and take some time doing so. It is not an easy topic to know a bit of info on and make informed pronouncements on.
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137. NEwxguy
6:59 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
a smart man doesn't sh!t where he eats, you know?

You always find a way to put it in words everyone can understand.
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136. Floodman
6:59 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
130. jphurricane2006

You're killing me, jp! LOL
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134. groundswell
6:58 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Kimberlain sure does give a good analysis
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133. Floodman
6:58 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
129. pearlandaggie

Scary, but too true...
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132. Floodman
6:48 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
124. jphurricane2006

Okay, all I'm going to say is that again, ignoring it would be stupid, denying it worse, but jumping off the other end and killing the economy would be just as bad.

Of course there were warming and cooling trends in the past, and there will trends long after no humans are left to measure them, but IF we're adding to the problem (and I'm convinced that we are, to some greater or lesser degree) we should work on decreasing our impact...a smart man doesn't sh!t where he eats, you know?
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131. hurricane23
2:54 PM EDT on June 05, 2008
Good afternoon!

We could be in for a rather busy season in the coming months once those sst's really warm up.

Check this out from TPC on tropical cyclone development.

THE LATEST CIMSS SAHARAN AIR LAYER ANALYSIS REVEALS
A LARGE AREA OF DUST AND STRONG SUBSIDENCE ASSOCIATED WITH THE
WAVE JUST NOW EMERGING FROM NW AFRICA AND SPREADING AS FAR E AS
40W. THE PRESENCE OF THE SAL SURROUNDING THE NEWEST WAVE TO MOVE
OFFSHORE IS LIKELY INHIBITING CONVECTION OVER THE AREA N OF 11N.
OTHERWISE...CIMSS SHEAR ANALYSES AS WELL AS CIRA EXPERIMENTAL
GENESIS PRODUCTS SHOW MUCH LOWER-THAN-AVERAGE VERTICAL WIND
SHEAR S OF ABOUT 18N E OF 55W...A TREND WHICH HAS CONTINUED
SINCE AT LEAST MAY. IN FACT...THE AREA AVERAGE SHEAR ACROSS THE
TROPICAL ATLANTIC IS LESS THAN 20 KT...WHEN IT SHOULD BE MUCH
CLOSER TO 30 KT. DESPITE THE EARLIER-THAN-NORMAL DYNAMIC
POTENTIAL OVER THE TROPICAL ATLANTIC...ABOVE NORMAL SEA SURFACE
TEMPERATURES ARE STILL TOO COOL OVER MUCH OF THE TROPICAL
ATLANTIC FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE DEVELOPMENT.

$$
KIMBERLAIN
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129. pearlandaggie
6:50 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
126. LMAO! that's pretty funny Flood! sad, but funny! :)
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127. OSUWXGUY
6:46 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
This may turn into another Storm Prediction Center High Risk Bust...

Looking at profilers and model data, the mid-level flow is too meridional over much of the warm sector - as they mention in their outlook. If I were out chasing, I'd play the warm front in northeastern NE into northern IA where there might be enough southeasterly flow for a few tornadoes...

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126. Floodman
6:44 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
jp, I worked for a company in St Louis that shall remain nameless; I was a programmer/systems analyst. The company was heavy into Biotech and was extremely top heavy with PHDs...the head of IT ops had a phrase he liked to use: "Educated past the point of intelligence". Doesn't mean they were worthless, but for the most part velcro closures on shoes were NOT invented for children, if you catch my drift...LOL
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125. OSUWXGUY
6:42 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Main Development Region shear has been mostly below the climatological average so far this year...now the million dollar question is will this continue as La Nina turns Neutral?


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123. Randyman
1:44 PM CDT on June 05, 2008


MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 1230
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0138 PM CDT THU JUN 05 2008

AREAS AFFECTED...NWRN TX...SWRN OK

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...TORNADO WATCH LIKELY

VALID 051838Z - 051945Z

CONVECTIVE INITIATION APPEARS PROBABLE BY 20-21Z AS HEATING/MIXING
BREAK CAPPING INVERSION ALONG DRYLINE. STRONG SWLYS ON SRN PERIPHERY
OF INTENSE MID-LEVEL JET EJECTING FROM SRN ROCKIES TO THE CNTRL
PLAINS...WILL SUPPORT SUPERCELL DEVELOPMENT INITIALLY WITH ATTENDANT
THREATS FOR LARGE HAIL/DAMAGING WINDS/ISOLATED TORNADOES. A TORNADO
WATCH WILL LIKELY BE ISSUED PRIOR TO 20Z.

RECENT VIS IMAGERY DEPICT CU/TCU INCREASING ALONG DRYLINE...SITUATED
FROM NEAR GAG SWWD TO MAF AS OF 18Z. ALTHOUGH THE MOST SIGNIFICANT
MID-LEVEL FORCING/HEIGHT FALLS ASSOCIATED WITH POTENT HIGH PLAINS
SHORT WAVE WILL REMAIN WELL N OF THE REGION...CONTINUED DAYTIME
HEATING/MIXING WILL LIKELY RESULT IN AT LEAST ISOLATED TO SCATTERED
TSTMS FORMING DURING THE MID/LATE-AFTERNOON. SHEAR/INSTABILITY
PARAMETERS WILL BE QUITE FAVORABLE FOR SUPERCELLS WITH SEVERE
HAIL/WINDS LIKELY. GIVEN THE DEGREE OF MIXING...RELATIVELY HIGH
BASES MAY MITIGATE A MORE SUBSTANTIAL TORNADO THREAT.
NEVERTHELESS...STRONG LOW-LEVEL SLYS WILL SUPPORT POTENTIAL TORNADIC
DEVELOPMENT.

..GRAMS.. 06/05/2008
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122. Floodman
6:37 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
112. jphurricane2006

Try Tambora, Kraktau, St Helens and Pinatubo, for starters. The summer after the Tambora eruption (1815) it snowed in New England in July. The volcanic eruption answer is the easy one...jp, you know as well as the rest of us that the climate is pretty complicated, so denying anything out of hand is a dangerous thing to do.
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120. LakeShadow
6:38 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
yeah...franck...what was I thinking???

I'll go take a nap, now.
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119. weatherboyfsu
6:39 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Correction!!!!!!!!!!!!! Goodland Kansas is about to get hit........ ;-)
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116. 69Viking
1:29 PM CDT on June 05, 2008
112. jphurricane2006

LOL! Although I pretty much agree you have to understand there are a lot of people in this world who lack "common sense"!

I think the world just needs to keep moving forward to reduce pollution and we'll be fine. Regardless we need to take care of our planet.
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114. weatherboyfsu
6:33 PM GMT on June 05, 2008
Good afternoon,

Looks like Garden City Kansas is about to get hit by one of those right-turning thunderstorms......No tornado warning yet, but looks nasty........
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About JeffMasters

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