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Effect of Atmospheric Circulation on Climate

The atmospheric circulation cells and the high and low pressure zones between them help to determine a region's climate.

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The Jet Stream

The Jet Stream

Credit: PD-NASA
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Straalstroom.jpg
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Clouds form along a jet stream where very two different air masses meet. This jet stream is in Canada.

Why It Matters/Amazing But True!/News You Can Use

  • Air masses have different temperature and humidity characteristics. Where two different air masses meet a jet stream forms.
  • When people refer to “the jet stream” they mean the polar jet stream where cold polar air and warm tropical air meet. This is the strongest jet stream.
  • Low pressure cells bring inclement weather. The jet stream moves them or blocks them, affecting the weather in different locations.
  • Credit: U.S. NOAA. National Weather Service JetStream. Original uploader was Thegreatdr at en.wikipedia
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jetcrosssection.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Subtropical and polar jet stream cross section (by latitude) [Figure2]


Explore More

With the links below, learn more about the jet stream. Then answer the following questions.

  1. At what time of year is the polar jet stream strongest and why?
  2. Over the United States the weather is very generally nice in the summer and stormy in the winter. How could you use the jet stream to explain this difference?
  3. What features influence where a jet stream goes?
  4. How does the location of a jet stream influence weather?
  5. How is global warming affecting the jet stream?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: PD-NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Straalstroom.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: U.S. NOAA. National Weather Service JetStream. Original uploader was Thegreatdr at en.wikipedia; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Jetcrosssection.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0


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