Why the sudden use of the term polar vortex?

Dear Tom,
Why the sudden use of the term polar vortex?
Scott Marckini,
Dear Scott,
The polar vortex is a large area of low pressure and cold air that circulates around both poles. It is strongest in winter when the pole to equator temperature gradient is the largest. During the Northern Hemisphere winter, the vortex can expand southward, sending arctic outbreaks south into the middle-latitudes, and this has always been the cause of the extreme cold episodes that affect Chicago and the Midwest. It is not a new phenomenon and it has been mentioned in the literature as early as the 1850s. The term’s use has recently gained prominence as public awareness of weather and climate has increased through the educational efforts of meteorologists. Prior generations used terms like arctic or Siberian high pressure to explain the extreme cold.

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