The stratosphere above the northern hemisphere has been much warmer than normal for over a week. This is a relatively unusual situation at this time of year, and could be due in part to recent solar activity, and on a longer-term basis, to the buildup of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
As long as the condition persists, there is the possibility that significant weather systems will develop over the northern hemisphere, however they cannot be predicted with accuracy. Models show that powerful late-winter and early spring storms can emerge when this type of stratospheric condition exists.
While northern hemisphere weather this season has generally been colder to much colder than usual, the high arctic has experienced a mild winter. At the same time, fierce summer heating has taken place in the southern hemisphere, with Sydney, Australia at one point reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because there are so many unknowns affecting the atmosphere at this time, it is not possible to determine anything more than the fact that conditions that have in the past led to instability now exist. There is no evidence that this could lead to the monster storm discussed in Art Bell and Whitley Strieber's book, the Coming Global Superstorm.
This is the Stratalert issued by the Stratospheric Research Group at the Free University of Berlin on 20 February 2001. This alert has been in progress for approximately 10 days:
STRATALERT EXISTS. MAJOR WARMING CONTINUES. A LARGE WARM AREA COVERS THE POLAR REGION, SIBERIA, EUROPE, AND THE EASTERN ATLANTIC, LEADING TO A REVERSED TEMPERATURE GRADIENT BETWEEN 60N AND THE POLE UP TO 5 HPA. A POLAR ANTICYCLONE AND A SPLIT, SOUTHWARD DISPLACED VORTEX LEAD TO NET EASTERLY WINDS AT LATITUDE 60N THROUGHOUT THE STRATOSPHERE.
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