Synoptic Meteorology: Polar Lows

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Polar lows are subsynoptic-scale cyclones that develop poleward of the main polar front over the ocean. Polar lows are the most intense variety of a general classification of polar mesoscale cyclones. They are typically less than 1000 km in scale and last for just 12-48 h, although they can have associated surface wind speeds of over 30 m s-1 (60 knots). Their scale and brief life cycle make them difficult to observe and forecast, therefore a genuine maritime hazard. Their role in the climate system and their outlook in a changing climate are topics of current research.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEncyclopedia of Atmospheric Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780123822260
ISBN (Print)9780123822253
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Air-sea heat fluxes
  • Arctic instability lows
  • Baroclinic instability
  • CISK
  • Comma clouds
  • Convection
  • Extratropical cyclones
  • Hurricanes
  • Mesoscale cyclones
  • Nordic Seas
  • Polar lows
  • Polar mesocyclones
  • Potential vorticity
  • Vortices

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