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Jet Stream
current of rapidly moving air

The jet stream is a current of fast moving air found in the upper levels of the atmosphere. This rapid current is typically thousands of kilometers long, a few hundred kilometers wide, and only a few kilometers thick. Jet streams are usually found somewhere between 10-15 km (6-9 miles) above the earth's surface. The position of this upper-level jet stream denotes the location of the strongest SURFACE temperature contrast (as in the diagram below).

[Image: jet stream schematic (28K)]

During the winter months, Arctic and tropical air masses create a stronger surface temperature contrast resulting in a strong jet stream. However, during the summer months, when the surface temperature variation is less dramatic, the winds of the jet are weaker.

Terms for using data resources. CD-ROM available.
Credits and Acknowledgments for WW2010.
Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.