In light of various recent studies, discuss how climate change is affecting the jet streams.

Jet streams refer to a narrow band of fast and strong winds moving in the upper atmosphere horizontally, generally flowing from west to east. They play a crucial role in the global climate and also affect the monsoons. They are primarily of 3 types:

  1. Sub tropical jet streams
  2. Tropical easterly jet streams
  3. Polar night jet streams

Effect of climate change on Jet Streams:

  • Recent studies have shown that climate change is causing the Jet streams to meander up & down more strongly. This can make the weather system to show extreme characteristics like heat waves, cold waves, droughts, floods, etc.
  • Arctic warming and the unstable polar vortex are also causing Jet streams to fluctuate from their normal paths, thus causing situations of droughts and floods simultaneously.
  • When movements of jet streams coincide with climate-driven extremes like heatwaves, droughts, and intense rainfall – the consequences can be catastrophic.
  • Global warming can lead to a slower summer jet stream. This can allow regional weather systems like fronts and air mass to persist in the same location for longer periods of time.
  • Jet streams are responsible for having a moderating effect on the global climate. Climate change and global warming due to greenhouse gases are said to be having an effect on the speed, force, and direction of jet streams. This has led to incidents of Heat domes, and marine, and terrestrial heat waves.

Jet streams have a strong connection with India’s southwest monsoons, which is the backbone of the Indian economy. Global efforts towards COP26 at Glasgow and Paris agreement needs to be done at a fast pace to slow down the pace of global warming.

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