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Home > iSGTW 26 March 2008 > iSGTW Image of the week - Stretching the polar vortex

Image of the week - Stretching the polar vortex

A rendering of the Polar Vortex, exaggerated 200 times along its vertical axis to better show its structure. This is the view when looking down from directly above the North Pole.
Image produced using VAPOR

The Stratospheric Polar Night Vortex is a pancake-thin region—only a few tens of kilometers thick—that can extend over much of the Northern Hemisphere.

Once or twice each year, in the polar wintertime stratosphere, the polar vortex is torn apart, destroyed by an exponential increase in large-scale movements in the atmosphere, called Rossby waves.

The polar vortex has recently attracted increased interest: its formation appears to be linked with the development of the wintertime ozone “hole”. 

Among the interested parties is a team of scientists from Sandia National Lab. They've developed a simulation to improve understanding of the polar vortex and its influence on ozone depletion, and are using an open source analysis and visualization package called VAPOR—Visualization and Analysis Platform for Ocean, Atmosphere and Solar Researchers—to analyze the results.

VAPOR is particularly useful when analyzing large data sets over grids and has a multi-resolution functionality that allows researchers to preview their data at a coarse resolution before committing to full resolution access, thus bypassing potential bottlenecks caused by network bandwidth.

“VAPOR’s multi-resolution data format is uniquely suited for use over the TeraGrid, on their wide-area file systems where you have ample bandwidth and capacity but in finite amounts,” says VAPOR developer John Clyne.

VAPOR is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation and was developed at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in collaboration with U.C. Davis and Ohio State University, all in the U.S. The NCAR are part of TeraGrid, whose wide-area file system, ample bandwidth and capacity are uniquely suited to VAPOR’s multi-resolution data format.



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