A dipole is a term that has been coined by researchers to explain two different weather systems such as hot dry weather in the West and cold snowy weather in the Midwest and the East. Traditionally, a dipole is a term used in physics and chemistry to describe two electric charges or magnetic poles that have equal magnitudes but opposite signs and are separated by a small distance. It is also used in chemistry to define a molecule in which the center of positive charge does not coincide with the center of negative charge.
Research conducted by climate scientist Simon Wang at Utah State University employs the term to explain how climate change may be behind two diverging weather systems. Namely, the drought in California and the cold and precipitation elsewhere on the continent.
In 2009, Wang related the dipole anomaly to record lows in Arctic summer sea ice extent.
In Wang’s research a dipole refers to the combination of a strong Western high pressure ridge and deep Great Lakes low pressure trough. That dipole is linked to a recently found precursor to El Nino. Wang’s study notes that this precursor is amplified by a build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
Extreme Cold in North America is due to Stratospheric Warming
Global Warming Continues Unabated Despite Cold Snaps
Global Warming Continues Unabated Despite a Seemingly Endless Winter in Parts of North America
“Catastrophic” Ice Storm Slams the Southeast and Heads North