What is a Jet Stream?

By K Balaji|Updated : January 6th, 2023

Jet streams are narrow bands of high-speed air that flow westward into the upper levels of the atmosphere (located near the height of the tropopause). The wind direction in jet streams is mainly from west to east, but this flow of air can often move in north and south directions. It is also known as upper atmosphere wind or geostationary wind.

Jet Stream in the Atmosphere

Jet streams are fast-flowing narrow-band currents of air formed in the upper atmospheres of some planets (including Earth), mostly from west to east. The average speed of the jet stream is 110 miles. However, the extreme temperature difference between cold and warm air can lead to its high speed, which can be as high as 250 mph (or even faster).

Wind speed is not directly north and south but is influenced by wind speed as you move away from the equator. This is due to speed and how fast the space on or above the Earth moves relative to the Earth's axis.

Wind speed is conserved as it travels around the Earth. This implies that as the air above the equator begins to move toward one of the poles, it keeps its eastward speed constant. However, the Earth beneath the air moves slower as the wind moves toward the poles.

Lastly, jet streams have an immense influence on weather conditions, and they have a close relationship with temperate cyclones and the Indian Monsoon. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the concept of jet streams to learn about the Indian climate.

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FAQs on Jet Stream

  • The narrow bands of high-speed airflow westward into the upper levels of the atmosphere (located near the height of the tropopause) are called Jet Streams. The understanding of jet streams is important to learn about temperate cyclones as well as the Indian Monsoon.

  • Jet streams of low pressure cause stronger winds and stormy rains. Contrary to this, if the jet stream gets slowed down, then the areas will experience high pressure because of which, the weather becomes less stormy, which results in dry skies and light winds.

  • India experiences two types of Jet Streams. One Jet stream (Easterly) tends to move to the Indian peninsular, and the other one moves to the Northern Himalayas in the summers from the west direction. They majorly impact the local and regional weather conditions.

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