Cumberland Advisors Guest Commentary – The Polar Vortex Is Coming To A State Near You!

Author: Bob Bunting, Post Date: January 28, 2021

At Cumberland, we pay attention to weather trends and phenomena since severe weather and the destruction left in its wake can affect municipal bonds and reconstruction efforts may result in new bond offerings to meet repair and improvement costs.

Bob Bunting, CEO of the Climate Adaptation Center (CAC), has given us permission to share his recent newsletter. We are proud to be one of the CAC’s sponsors. The newsletter follows.


A Few Words From Bob Bunting

Climate Adaptation Center

We are so grateful and pleased about the dozens of you who helped our first fundraiser become a significant success.  Over $100,000 in donations/investments have been secured to date and while we are well short of the longer term $2M goal, the interest and early support of the Climate Adaptation Center is encouraging.  Thank YOU!

Once another $100,000 is secured, CAC will begin building a curated database.  Engaging great scientists to translate their science working together with the CAC science team, we will create trusted, easily understood and actionable information.  The goal is to inform and accelerate decision making on a coordinated regional scale to mitigate and adapt to the worst impacts of the climate warming in our area.  You know well what those climate disruptions are but you can review them by just reading the CAC website!

CAC is beginning a social networking initiative geared at making CAC the most known climate enterprise dedicated to ensuring that highly evolved climate science is being more rapidly used within society.  $Billions have been spent on climate science and $trillions are at risk!

This, our second Climate Insights Newsletter, features a primer on the Polar Vortex PV.  Our many snowbirds will enjoy Florida even more after reading!  For us Floridians, we know about the PV and can be a bit smug!  The second two weeks of February could see a record cold PV impact a large part of the US, but probably not Florida!!

There are several new articles on the website that may be of interest.

The first discusses how hurricanes impact Red Tide. A Red Tide continues in SW Florida.  I am concerned that 2021 may be a Red Tide year here on the Suncoast (see the update below).  It all depends on the 2021 hurricane season.

Next is the sad news that global temperatures continue to rise much faster than we want!

2020 was a year of records, many which we want to forget.  But another global temperature record (tie) was set making the 21st Century warmer in almost every one of the 20 completed years!

Finally, Getting to Net Zero carbon emissions is going to be one of the great challenges of the 21st Century.

Now that the US is back in the Paris Agreement, the CAC will be doing a Special Series called, The Paris Climate Agreement: The Good, The Bad & The Opportunity! Stay Tuned.

Switching gears, there are new and even better rules for giving to the CAC in 2021.  Please see the box below.  Please join our cause because… We Can Do It With You!


NOTE: Cumberland Advisors does not give legal or tax advice. Please see your legal or tax advisor for information / recommendations.

NEW IRS Rules for 2021 Charitable Donations


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Red Tide Ongoing in SW Florida

What is the Polar Vortex?

If you have been listening to the news lately there has been some talk about a visit from the Polar Vortex (PV).  Since there is a climate connection with the PV I thought you might be interested in knowing about it.

The earth being round and tilted on its axis helps create our weather and climate.  Since the North Pole is much colder than the equator, there is a temperature difference between the two and that difference varies due to weather patterns and other factors I’ll discuss later.  In summer when the Northern Hemisphere NH is warmest overall, the temperatures at the equator and pole are relatively high and the temperature difference between the two is smallest.  When cold air comes down into the US in summer it’s darn refreshing especially if it makes it to Florida!

During winter it’s another matter!  If jet streams are strong around the NH, then the cold air just builds up in the arctic and impacts the northern most countries the most. Think of the jet stream as a belt of strong winds around the planet holding the cold air in place.  In the mid atmosphere this pool of cold air circulates counterclockwise and is therefore a mid level low pressure area.

While It is normal for cold air to be in Canada all winter for example there are times when the PV heads south.  Since cold air is much heavier than warm air, when the jet steam is weak the belt loosens and the heavy cold air pushes southward out of the Arctic and into the US and Europe.  The weak jet stream can’t hold the cold air in its circulation and the air moves south.

When this happens, stories about the dreaded PV are in the news.  Look for that in the next week or so as February begins.

In summary, there are two phases in the PV, the first is when it is stable because the jet streams around the NH are able to contain and hold the dense cold air in the Arctic that build up in the darkness of winter where warming sun isn’t present.  Phase 2 is when the same conditions are present in Arctic winter but the jet streams are weak and the cold air plunges south.

Is it normal to have a Polar Vortex?

Yes, the PV is a normal feature of the earth’s weather and climate system.  How the earth warms is due in part from the fact the earth is tilted 23.5° or so on its axis.  So the sun hits the earth with varying angles depending on latitude causing the differential warming between equator and pole.

Does a warming climate have any impact on the Polar Vortex?

This perhaps is the most interesting question.  As the earth has warmed in recent decades, and it is warming faster than any time over the past 1,000,000,000 years, the jet streams have weakened overall both in summer and winter.  The jet streams are stronger when the difference in temperatures between the pole and equator are large.  As the earth is warming, we find the arctic is warming at least twice as fast as the equator.  That means the difference in the temperatures between pole and equator are becoming smaller as the planet warms and that leads to jet streams that are less intense.

The end result is Phase 2 of the PV is happening more often meaning the cold air that builds up over the pole is able to move southward more easily and more frequently.

This is why Climate Scientist and Meteorologist will tell you that although the earth is warming that does not translate into the end of cold snaps.  In fact there will be times it is colder than normal. The instability of the climate warming is actually making the Polar Vortex another climate induced wintertime disruption.

In summer, weaker jet streams means hurricanes move more slowly and can stall thereby magnifying wind, storm surge and rainfall impacts as they meander over the areas they strike.

Now you know!

About Climate Adaptation Center

CAC is an independent, non-profit organization focused on the unique and evolving challenges arising from Florida’s changing climate. Your support helps CAC explore the intersection of scientific research, business innovation and government resources to help communities recognize and adapt to the changing climate, and to help businesses thrive in the emerging climate economy.

CAC Mailing Address: 111 S Pineapple Ave Suite 911, Sarasota, FL 34236

Our Tax Exempt IRS EIN is 84-1889176

Climate Adaptation Center Website:

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