Earth  ID: 3864

The Polar Jet Stream

Meandering around the planet like a rollicking roller coaster in the sky, the Northern Hemisphere's polar jet stream is a fast-moving belt of westerly winds that traverses the lower layers of the atmosphere. The jet is created by the convergence of cold air masses descending from the Arctic and rising warm air from the tropics. Deep troughs and steep ridges emerge as the denser cold air sinks and deflects warm air regions north, giving the jet stream its wavy appearance. This pattern propagates across the mid-latitudes of North America, Europe and Asia, as pockets of cold air sporadically creep down from the Arctic - creating contrasting waves and flows that accelerate eastward due to Earth's rotation. Running from June 10 to July 8 of 1988, the visualization below uses weather and climate observations from NASA's MERRA dataset to model nearly a month of the jet stream's whirling journey over North America.

 

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Visualization Credits

Trent L. Schindler (USRA): Lead Animator
Greg Shirah (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Horace Mitchell (NASA/GSFC): Animator
Jefferson Beck (USRA): Producer
Kayvon Sharghi (USRA): Writer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

The Blue Marble data is courtesy of Reto Stockli (NASA/GSFC).

Short URL to share this page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/3864

Mission:
Terra

Data Used:
MERRA
Terra and Aqua/MODIS/Blue Marble Land Cover

Keywords:
DLESE >> Atmospheric science
SVS >> HDTV
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Atmosphere >> Atmospheric Winds >> Upper Level Winds
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> MERRA
NASA Science >> Earth
SVS >> Jet Stream

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0