Are you familiar with jet streams? These long and fast-moving winds usually flow 30,000 feet up in the air and can be thousands of miles long. Jet streams influence global weather conditions and meteorologists are tracking them to forecast the weather.
In the light of the recent storms in the U.S. and U.K., scientists are studying jet streams and its possible involvement in today's severe weather conditions.
A new study that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Chicago revealed that the jet streams are taking a longer path. This could result to prolonged weather conditions.
According to Professor Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University, the weather patterns are already changing and could get worse.
"The Arctic has been warming rapidly only for the past 15 years. We can expect more of the same, and we can expect it to happen more frequently," she said.
Jet streams are caused by the temperature differential between the Arctic and the mid-latitudes, writes BBC's Pallab Ghosh. If the differential is bigger, then the jet streams can speed up. But because of the warming Arctic, the jet streams are slowing down and drifting. This causes the weather conditions to last longer.
The U.S. and the U.K., for example, are experiencing prolonged storms. Australia is also suffering from extreme weather. "We may have to get used to winters where spells of weather go on for weeks - or even months," Ghosh said.