Polar Vortices

Polar vortices are a prominent winter feature in the atmospheres of Earth. There are distinct stratospheric and tropospheric polar vortices (What is a polar vortex?), with the stratospheric polar vortex playing a key role in ozone depletion. The stratospheric vortex can also influence surface weather (including extreme events), although extreme surface weather events are often related to transient, localized displacements of the edge of the tropospheric polar vortex.

Polar vortices are also observed on other planetary bodies, including Mars, Venus, and Saturn’s moon Titan. We are exploring the structure and related tracer transport of polar vortices on Mars and Titan.


  • Waugh, D.W, A Sobel, L.M. Polvani, 2016: What is the Polar Vortex and how does it influence weather? Bulletin American Meteorological Society, 98, 37-44.
  • Waugh, D.W. and L.M. Polvani, Stratospheric Polar Vortices, in “The Stratosphere: Dynamics, Transport and Chemistry. A festschrift celebrating Alan Pumb’s 60th birthday”, L.M. Polvani, A.H. Sobel and D.W. Waugh, Eds., American Geophysical Union, Washington, D.C., 2010.
  • The Polar Vortex: Meshing and Stripping the Gears of the Atmosphere


See more polar vortex papers.