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To know when it will snow

Bad weather is coming soon! Supercells are often associated with violent weather. Credit: NOAA Library/NSSL.
Click here for a high resolution photograph.

Snow holidays may become a bit less of a surprise for kids in some parts of the world, if new research on weather prediction makes its way to weather stations. In a new study, scientists describe how they are getting better at predicting weather ten days or more in the future - especially in winter. They do this by monitoring the layer of the atmosphere just above the highest clouds and storms. This is the part of the atmosphere you zoom through when you ride on a big, commercial airplane.

By measuring the circulation of air in this part of the atmosphere, called the "stratosphere," scientists can better predict one of Earth's climate cycles that influences winter weather. This cycle, the Arctic Oscillation, impacts winter climate from Alaska and Scandinavia to Spain and the Middle East. The Arctic Oscillation helps determine winter weather, including the rain and snow, the path that storms take, and frequency of cold snaps.

Mark Baldwin from Northwest Research Associates in Bellevue, WA and colleagues published their research in the August 1, 2003 issue of the journal Science.


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