Science Dictionary
jet stream  

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A narrow current of strong wind circling the Earth from west to east at altitudes of about 11 to 13 km (7 to 8 mi) above sea level. There are usually four distinct jet streams, two each in the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Jet stream wind speeds average 56 km (34 mi) per hour in the summer and 120 km (74 mi) in the winter. They are caused by significant differences in the temperatures of adjacent air masses. These differences occur where cold, polar air meets warmer, equatorial air, especially in the latitudes of the westerlies.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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