In the 1960s, scientists coined the term ‘quasi-biennial oscillation’ to describe a predictable aspect of the Earth’s wind pattern which repeats itself over a roughly two-year period. Recently, this pattern changed unexpectedly, something that has not been seen since measurements of the phenomenon were first recorded more than half a century ago.

While the disruption to the wind pattern did not have any immediate obvious impact on the weather or climate as we experience it on the Earth’s surface, it does raise interesting questions for the Nasa scientists who observed it. For example, if a pattern remains the same for six decades and then suddenly changes, what caused that to happen and will it occur again? What effects could this have? READ MORE