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Beast from the East 2? What 'sudden stratospheric warming' involves and why it can cause freezing surface weather

By Richard Hall, Research Associate, Climate Dynamics Group, University of Bristol
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A “sudden stratospheric warming” event took place in early January 2021, according to the Met Office, the UK’s national weather service. These events are some of the most extreme of atmospheric phenomena, and I study them as part of my academic research. The stratosphere is the layer of the atmosphere from around 10km to 50km above the Earth’s surface, and sudden warming up there can lead to very cold weather over Europe and Siberia, with an increased possibility of snow storms.


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