A New Year’s Outbreak of Polar Stratospheric Clouds

Posted: January 3, 2020 by oldbrew in atmosphere, Clouds, News

The stratosphere isn’t even supposed to have clouds…


Jan. 1, 2020: A spectacular display of polar stratospheric clouds (PSCs) that began two days ago is still going strong around the Arctic Circle. This picture, taken on Dec. 31st by Per-Anders Gustavsson in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, shows why some onlookers mistake them for daytime auroras:


“The colors were amazing,” says Gustavsson, who drives a tour bus for Visit Abisko. “I was driving by the world-famous Ice Hotel when we saw the clouds. We just had to stop for pictures.”

“I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things during my years in the Arctic,” he adds. “This was easily one of the greatest displays I have ever seen.”

Polar stratospheric clouds are newsworthy because normally the stratosphere has no clouds at all. The stratosphere is arid and almost always transparent. Only when the temperature drops to a staggeringly cold -85C can sparse water molecules assemble themselves into icy stratospheric clouds. PSCs…

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  1. oldbrew says:

    See 16 seconds of video here:

    “Once in a Lifetime” Polar Stratospheric Clouds


  2. Gamecock says:

    At 68° N, I would have expected it to be completely dark on 31 Dec.

  3. oldbrew says:

    An hour or more of early and late twilight.