Polar Vortex / Submarine Cable – Facts for Prelims

Polar vortex

  • The polar vortex is a low pressure area—a wide expanse of swirling cold air—that is parked in polar regions. During winter, the polar vortex at the North Pole expands, sending cold air southward. This happens fairly regularly and is often associated with outbreaks of cold temperatures in the United States.
  • When the low-pressure system is strong and healthy, it keeps the jet stream traveling around Earth in a circular path. The jet stream is a band of reliably strong wind that plays a key role in keeping colder air north and warmer air south. But when the vortex weakens, part of the weakened low-pressure system can break off. This breaking-off process causes colder temperature in United states and Europe
  • Without that strong low-pressure system, the jet stream does not have enough force to maintain its usual path. It becomes wavy and rambling. When high-pressure systems get in its way, a collection of cold air pushes south, along with the rest of the polar vortex system.
  • The waxing and waning of the polar vortex is driven by the movement of mass and the transfer of heat in the polar region.
  • The breakup of the northern polar vortex occurs between mid-March to mid-May. This event signifies the transition from winter to spring, and has impacts on the hydrological cycle, growing seasons of vegetation, and overall ecosystem productivity. The timing of the transition also influences changes in sea ice, ozone, air temperature, and cloudiness

Submarine cable

  • A submarine cable is a fiber optic cable laid in the ocean, connecting two or more landing points.
  • These cables are generally comprised of the optical fibers that carry the information, which are then covered in silicon gel, then sheathed in varying layers of plastic, steel wiring, copper, and nylon in order to provide insulation to protect the signal and protect the cable from damage from wildlife, anchors & fishing, or weather & other natural events.

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