CU Boulder-led team is first to observe new equatorial wind patterns in Antarctica, revealing new connections in global circulation.
A CIRES-led team has uncovered a critical connection between winds at Earth’s equator and atmospheric waves 6,000 miles away at the South Pole. The team has found, for the first time, evidence of a Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (QBO)—an atmospheric circulation pattern that originates at the equator—at McMurdo, Antarctica.
The discovery highlights how winds in the deep tropics affect the remote South Pole, in particular the polar vortex, which can trigger outbreaks of cold weather patterns in mid latitudes. Scientists will be able to use this information to better understand the planet’s weather and climate patterns and fuel more accurate atmospheric models, the authors say.
“We have now seen how this atmospheric pattern propagates from the equator all the way to the high latitudes of Antarctica, showing how these far-away regions can be linked in ways we didn’t know about before,” said Zimu Li, a former CIRES research assistant who did this work at CU Boulder, and lead author of the study out today in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.
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