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What Is A Heat Dome?

Context:

At least seven countries have recorded their hottest January weather ever. These included Poland, Denmark, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Belarus, Lithuania and Latvia. According to The Washington Post report, the continent is experiencing an extreme warm spell because of the formation of a heat dome over the region.

Relevance:

GS I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a heat dome?
  2. How is a heat dome formed?

What is a heat dome?

  • A heat dome occurs when an area of high-pressure traps warm air over a region, just like a lid on a pot, for an extended period of time.
  • The longer that air remains trapped, the more the sun works to heat the air, producing warmer conditions with every passing day.
  • Heat domes generally stay for a few days but sometimes they can extend up to weeks, which might cause deadly heat waves.
  • Scientists suggest that any region of high pressure, whether a heat dome or not, forces air to sink and once it reaches the ground, it gets compressed and becomes even warmer.
  • Moreover, when air sinks, it gets drier and further raises the temperature of the area.

How is a heat dome formed?

  • The heat dome’s formation is related to the behaviour of the jet stream — an area of fast-moving air high in the atmosphere.
  • The jet stream is believed to have a wave-like pattern that keeps moving from north to south and then north again.
  • When these waves get bigger, they move slowly and sometimes can become stationary. This is when a heat dome forms.
  • Although heat domes are likely to have always existed, researchers say that climate change may be making them more intense and longer. 

-Source:  Indian Express


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