This is the year of obscure atmospheric phenomenon. The polar vortex chilled everyone’s winter. Methane releases might be carving mysterious craters in the Arctic ice. And blocking patterns got the blame for Colorado’s so-called thousand-year flood…In a paper published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dim Coumou of Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research suggests that stalled atmospheric currents related to Rossby waves could have been behind recent droughts and flooding. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University’s Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences has proposed a similar connection between the waves and an increase in extreme weather events (although she points to a slightly different mechanism). So what are these waves?
/ / / The Jargonaut: What’s a Rossby Wave?