United States Midwest has been
gripped by the lowest temperatures it has seen this year. An unusually cold
Arctic air mass, called a polar vortex, is responsible for the serious
temperatures which in many areas have run well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit
(-18 degrees Celsius).
NASA's atmospheric infrared
Sounder (AIRS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite captured
the polar swirl it moved south from central Canada to the United States
Midwest from Jan. 20 to Jan. 29. 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 a data series
Progress, you can see how the coldest purple areas of the air mass slope down
in the United States
The polar swirl is
responsible for a number of deaths, disruption of services and power outages
in the affected areas.
AIRS, in conjunction with Advanced Microwave Sounding
Unit (AMSU), senses radiate infrared and microwave radiation from Earth
give a three-dimensional view of the Earth's weather and climate. Work in
tandem, the two instruments make simultaneous observations down to the earth
surface. With more than 2,000 channels recording different areas of the atmosphere,
The system creates a global three-dimensional map of atmospheric temperature
and humidity, cloud quantities and altitudes, greenhouse gas concentrations and many
other atmospheric phenomena.
in the Earth's circuits in 2002, the AIRS and AMSU instruments are controlled by NASAs
Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, contracted to NASA. JPL
is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.
More information on AIRS can be found at:
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.