The Polar Jet Stream Over Asia, 2010

  • Released Tuesday, February 25th, 2014
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:51PM

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.

This visualization was adapted from The Polar Jet Stream (#3864) by special request, using weather and climate observations from NASA's MERRA data model from 2010 for the period of the floods in Russia and the droughts in Pakistan.



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NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio


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