What Are Jet Streams and How Are They Formed?

Jet streams are high-speed winds that circle the southern and Northern hemispheres. In order to find them, you have to climb to at least 10,000 feet or, perhaps, even 40,000 feet.

Jet Streams occur at the tropopause and are caused by a combination of atmospheric heating and the earth’s rotation on its own axis.

They are called jet streams because they move at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour and are shaped like streams. They can be 1,000 to 3,000 miles long, anywhere from 50 to 400 miles wide, and 3,000 to 7,000 feet deep.

Scientists didn’t believe these winds existed until World War II, when B-29 Flying Fortresses first came up against them. The B-29’s normally flew at 200 miles an hour, but when they met a jet stream head on, they couldn’t move forward at all! Jet streams are usually found over the earth’s temperate zones.

They separate the warm air of the tropics from the cold air of the poles and have a great deal to do with how warm or cold our summers and winters are.

Jet streams were discovered in the 1920s by Japanese meteorologist Wasaburo Ooishi.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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