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Polar Winds Speeding Up

The polar vortex above the North Pole is speeding up and scientists can't figure out why. "This is possibly...related to global climate change," says Arctic scientist James Morison. The increased wind velocity may help explain the extraordinarily warm weather in the Arctic over the past decade, which is disrupting fishing, animal behavior, and the way of life of the natives who live in the area. Alaskan resident Caleb Pungowiyi says, "They're afraid to take a stand that might make them appear like they recommend some environmental policy." In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Tom Paulson quotes Pungowiyi as saying, "Our whole system is based on the cycle of nature. I keep thinking it will soon get back to normal, but it doesn't."

The increased polar winds may be a reaction to the warming global temperature. As the vortex has gained speed and strength in the past decade, there have been increases in average Arctic temperatures, as well as changes in plankton, jellyfish and vegetation, as well as in the Arctic ocean's balance of fresh and salt water?and it's not just the North Pole that?s being affected. Morison says, "Changes in the polar vortex will have an impact on Seattle." As the polar vortex speeds up, it will shift the jet stream and could make the Pacific Northwest even wetter.

At a recent meeting of the National Science Foundation, as part of its project SEARCH (the Study of Environmental Arctic Change), scientists discussed the disturbing changes in the Arctic, such as thinning sea ice, shifts in ocean currents and disruptions of animal habitats. Matthew Sturm, of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Fairbanks, thinks the changes are probably not reversible, and says, "It's like a rock that's been pushed down a hill."

Mysterious forces have brought down civilizations in the past and it?s happening to the Inuit in Alaska right now. (This book is part of our overstock sale).

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