Science: High Winds

Scientists have long thought that the outer edge of the atmosphere was a quiet place. Little wind, they thought, ever blew there. They knew that at 100,000 ft. the temperature hovered at — 40°F rose to zero at 120,000 ft.; that air density there was only 1/180 of what it is at sea level.

But last week, University of Chicago Meteorologist Herbert Riehl, 44, reported that the high, thin air above 100,000 ft.

is swept by raging, 130-m.p.h. winds that blow fiercely for a day or a week, then subside inexplicably into dead calm—then reverse themselves and blow in the opposite direction.

Violent Changes....

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!