The circumpolar or circumpolar vortex is a vast ring of frigid, spinning air that encircles both of the Earth’s poles. Other rotating, low-obliquity planetary bodies also have polar vortices. The term circumpolar can be used to describe two distinct phenomena: the stratospheric one and the tropospheric one.n

This article will give you the right information about the polar vortex so that you can prepare your UPSC notes. Read the full article and jot down all the bullet points so that you can look at it while revision.

Polar Vortex: Understand the Meaning

A huge area of low pressure and frigid air surrounds both of the Earth’s poles, forming the circumpolar. It is ALWAYS present at the poles, but becomes weaker in the summer and stronger in the winter. The name “vortex” refers to the counter-clockwise airflow that helps keep colder air away from the poles.

The circumpolar expands frequently in the northern hemisphere throughout the winter, pushing frigid air southward with the jet stream. This happens frequently during the winter and is frequently linked to significant breakouts of Arctic air in the United States.


The name “circumpolar” was just recently coined to draw attention to a weather phenomenon that has always existed. It’s also not a feature found on the surface of the Earth. The circumpolar is studied by weather forecasters by looking at situations tens of thousands of feet above Earth’s surface; yet, when we feel the exceptionally cold air from the Arctic regions at Earth’s surface, it is caused by the circumpolar.

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Polar Vortex: UPSC Notes

The United States has recently experienced extreme cold, with temperatures exceeding -30°C in locations such as Dakota and Chicago.

#A burst of Arctic air, as a result of a “circumpolar” event, causes this.

#A huge area of low pressure and frigid air surrounds both of the Earth’s poles, forming the circumpolar. The Polar Pig was another name for it.

#The name “vortex” refers to the circular airflow that helps keep colder air away from the poles. It is constantly present near the poles, but it is weaker in the summer and stronger in the winter.

#It’s also not a feature found on the surface of the Earth; rather, it’s found tens of thousands of feet up in the atmosphere.

#The circumpolar, on the other hand, expands frequently in the northern hemisphere during the winter, bringing cold air southward. This happens on a very regular basis during the winter and is frequently accompanied by big breakouts of Arctic air in the United States, Asia and Europe.

#The primary hazard to humans is the extent of the freezing temperatures that will be experienced when the polar vortex grows, moving Arctic air southward into locations where it is not normally chilly.


#During the winter, the circumpolar is at its strongest, while during the summer, it is at its weakest.

#A circumpolar will be enhanced in the event of a volcanic eruption, and it can stay that way for up to two years following the initial eruption.

#When the Arctic Vortex is extended in shape with two cyclone centres, it will form a single vortex.

#The circumpolar in Antarctica is significantly more enduring than the one in the Arctic.

#A circumpolar will be considerably strengthened by climate phenomena associated with La Nina.


#Between mid-March and mid-May, the Arctic circumpolar dissipates. This occasion signals the end of winter and the start of spring. This occurrence has an impact on farming activities, ecosystems, and other weather cycles.

#Sea ice, ozone, air temperature, and cloud formation are all affected by the same transition.

#The circumpolar breaks up early, resulting in a warming trend that lasts from late February to mid-March. Two warming periods, one in January and one in March, will result from a late breakup period.

#Before the end of the previous warming era, the circumpolar can break apart. It can expand into Canada and the Central, Midwest, and Northeastern United States if it grows large enough.

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The divide higher up in the atmosphere can cause both immediate and delayed consequences, with much of the eastern US, as well as western and northern Europe, seeing dropping temperatures and intense winter weather.

Sudden stratospheric warming causes the warm Arctic, not just in the stratosphere but also in the troposphere. As the Arctic warms, more severe winter weather develops in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes, including the eastern United States.

National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization

With its headquarters in Kolkata, the National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization (NATMO) is a subordinate department of the Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.

More than 800 themes have been devised and published by NATMO within the broad category of social, physical, environmental disciplines and economics. It has the world’s greatest store of geographic and non-spatial data, all of which is processed with higher precision to provide high-quality goods. NATMO maintains the most contemporary technology, such as remote sensing, GPS, GIS, to assure precision and value addition.

Major Functions

#Compilation of India’s National Atlas Maps for the National Atlas in regional languages are being prepared.

#Thematic maps are being created based on research studies on environmental and related issues, as well as their impact on social and economic growth.

#NATMO is responsible for any other job given to it by the Central Government or its agencies.

#Installation of an automated mapping system to improve mapping speed and efficiency.

#Division of a digital mapping system and digitization and scanning of existing maps into digital format Geographical Studies Digital Image Processing,

#GIS and Remote Sensing NEMO’s Division on Cartography for the Visually Impaired is converting/ upgrading its infrastructure in digital mode.

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How is Global Warming Related to Polar Vortex?

#Since 1880, the global temperature has risen by 0.8°C.

#The Arctic has warmed more than twice as much as the rest of the world.

#The temperature disparity between the North Pole and North American regions has narrowed.

#The jet stream’s energy goes higher, disrupting the circumpolar and forcing it to split.

#This week, one of these two “child” vortices passed through North America, creating record temperatures.

Polar Vortex Cold Wave

#When the Westerlies, as well as the polar jet, are strong, the circumpolar will stay put (Strong circumpolar means there is huge temperature contrast between the temperate and polar regions).

#The circumpolar intrudes into mid-latitude regions when it is weak, bending the main wind flow pattern. Cold outbreaks are common in the midlatitudes as a result of this.

#The vortex can bring subzero temperatures to parts of the United States and Canada, where it is most common.

Ozone Depletion at the South Pole

#Ozone depletion and the polar vortex are two separate but connected phenomena.

The overall volume of ozone in the stratosphere has been steadily decreasing by roughly 4%.

#Around Earth’s polar regions, there is a far larger loss of stratospheric ozone.

#The rise in halocarbons in the atmosphere causes ozone depletion.

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Polar Vortex UPSC Questions for Better Preparation

#What are the risks associated with a circumpolar?

When a polar vortex weakens, it causes more severe winter conditions and can lead to extreme cold weather in the northern hemisphere and the places where the circumpolar is in effect.

#What causes a polar vortex to form?

Low pressure occurs in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, forming a circumpolar. The air is frequently controlled by a strong jet of west-to-east flowing winds that function as a wall, keeping the cold air at bay.

Some More UPSC Questions

#What is the impact of a polar vortex on the ozone layer?

The Antarctic circumpolar’s chemical composition has resulted in significant ozone depletion. The nitric acid in stratospheric clouds combines with chlorofluorocarbons to produce chlorine, hastening the ozone layer’s depletion.

#What effect does the Polar Vortex have on the Indian climate?

According to some studies, there is no direct link between the Polar Vortex and Indian weather, although the Arctic winds do have a downward influence on many weather systems, including the western disturbance.


Throughout history, the Earth’s climate has altered. It happened in the same way it did 650,000 years ago, during seven cycles of glacial advance and retreat. Around 7,000 years ago, the previous ice age abruptly ended, signalling the start of the present climate era – and of human civilisation.

Hopefully, this article helped you all to know what the circumpolar is all about. One knows that nature is under threat and the huge threat is mankind. The polar vortex is connected to global warming and ozone layer depletion. This is a hot topic when it comes to current affairs and that’s why the chances of this topic being asked are more.

Look out for more important topics in the blog section of UPSC Pathshala and keep yourself updated with the crucial topics and study materials that are posted here. All the best!

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What is the polar vortex? How is the polar vortex linked to global warming? There have been many questions asked in the UPSC examination about the polar vortex in current affairs. Get the notes here.
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