NASA’s AIRS captures polar vortex moving in over US

NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite captured the polar vortex as it moved southward from central Canada into the U.S. Midwest from Jan. 20 through Jan. 29.

NASA's AIRS captures polar vortex moving in over US

NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite captured the polar vortex moving southward from central Canada to the U.S. Midwest. According to scientists, this polar vortex, also known as cold Arctic air mass is responsible for the severe temperatures.

Due to the polar vortex, the U.S. Midwest has been gripped by the lowest temperatures it has seen in years. The polar vortex is responsible for a number of deaths, disruptions to services, and energy outages in the affected areas.

NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument captures a polar vortex moving from Central Canada into the U.S. Midwest from January 20 through January 29. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech AIRS Project
NASA’s Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument captures a polar vortex moving from Central Canada into the U.S. Midwest from January 20 through January 29. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech AIRS Project

The lowest temperatures are shown in purple and blue and range from -40 degrees Fahrenheit (also -40 degrees Celsius) to -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius). As the data series progresses, you can see how the coldest purple areas of the air mass scoop down into the U.S.

Earth to provide a three-dimensional look at Earth’s weather and climate. Working in tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations down to Earth’s surface.

With more than 2,000 channels sensing different regions of the atmosphere, the system creates a global, three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature and humidity, cloud amounts and heights, greenhouse gas concentrations and many other atmospheric phenomena.