What is it about?

Extreme ocean weather near the polar regions often takes place in cold air outbreaks, when dry and cold air masses from over sea ice migrate over open ocean. When the cold air is heated from below by the warmer ocean, the air will rise, which again can lead to small cyclones developing. Here I show that cold air outbreaks generally lead to stronger winds.

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Why is it important?

Strong winds over the ocean are very dangerous and have led to thousands of shipwrecks and deaths in near-polar regions. I've shown that strong winds are more likely during cold air outbreaks. This can give forecasters a chance to warn fishermen and other people with activities in these regions, potentially saving lives.


Having studied polar lows for a long time, I knew that they created strong winds, but I've always wondered if cold air outbreaks (in which polar lows form) were dangerous in themselves. Now I've found that they are, and this motivates me to try to find ways of predicting cold air outbreaks well ahead in time.

Dr Erik W Kolstad
NORCE Norwegian Research Centre

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Higher ocean wind speeds during marine cold air outbreaks, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, June 2017, Wiley, DOI: 10.1002/qj.3068.
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