Source: Thomas Pagano, NASA/JPL-Caltech
Published: August 9, 2021

The Arctic polar vortex is a large area of cold air circling the Artic that grows in size in the winter and leads to cold weather conditions in the US. As it expands and gets caught up in the jet stream, it can send out a tongue of cold air from the Arctic as far south as Atlanta Ga. This mosaic animation shows temperatures measured by the AIRS instrument at 600 mb (TBD Altitude) for the months of December 2002 to March 2020. The color scale ranges from 225K to 270K (blue to red). As the polar vortex rotates you should see consistent patterns over the US where the tongue of cold air will dip repeatedly over and over bringing wave after wave of bad weather. Occasional gaps can be seen in the data that occur when the instrument or satellite are not in their operational mode either for maintenance or a temporary anomaly. The raw instrument data used to derive the temperature profiles seen in these animations is also assimilated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Numerical Weather Prediction centers worldwide to improve operational forecast.