Noctilucent Clouds over London

Posted: June 24, 2020 by oldbrew in Clouds, solar system dynamics

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This phenomenon seems to be flourishing during solar minimum.

Spaceweather.com

June 23, 2020: On June 21st, something rare and magical happened in London. The skies of the great city filled with noctilucent clouds (NLCs). Phil Halper noticed the display, grabbed a camera, and raced from one landmark to another, hurriedly recording pictures like this:

Eye_of_London_resized

“Even the bright lights of the London Eye on the river Thames couldn’t drown out the display,” says Halper. “These were the most spectacular NLCs I’ve ever seen.”

If NLCs look alien–that’s because they are. The clouds are seeded by meteoroids. They form every year around this time when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up to the mesosphere, allowing water to crystallize around specks of meteor smoke.

Usually you have to be under a dark sky at high latitudes to see these rare clouds–but 2020 is not usual. Record-cold temperatures in the mesosphere are boosting NLCs, brightening them enough to see from places…

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Comments
  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘Record-cold temperatures in the mesosphere are boosting NLCs’

    The mesosphere has been called the “ignorosphere” because it is poorly studied relative to the stratosphere (which can be accessed with high-altitude balloons) and the thermosphere (in which satellites can orbit).
    . . .
    Millions of meteors enter the Earth’s atmosphere, averaging 40,000 tons per year. The ablated material, called meteoric smoke, is thought to serve as condensation nuclei for noctilucent clouds.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesosphere#Dynamic_features
    – – –
    Inevitably…

    Climate Change Is Responsible for These Rare High-Latitude Clouds

    A study shows that methane emissions are responsible for the increase of noctilucent clouds, which glow eerily at night
    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/climate-change-responsible-these-rare-high-latitude-clouds-180969712/
    – – –
    Climate modelling strikes again.

  2. tom0mason says:

    Back in Oct 2018 it was noted —

    Oct. 26, 2018: The Thermosphere Climate Index (TCI) is now on Spaceweather.com. TCI is a relatively new space weather metric that tells us how the top of Earth’s atmosphere (or “thermosphere”) is responding to solar activity. During Solar Max the top of our atmosphere heats up and expands. Right now the opposite is happening. Solar minimum is here and the thermosphere is cooling off:

    https://spaceweatherarchive.com/2018/10/26/a-new-space-weather-metric/

    Is this Thermosphere cooling slowly affecting the Mesosphere?

    On the 9th of this month https://spaceweatherarchive.com/2020/06/09/record-cold-in-the-mesosphere/ had a piece on the very cold temperature affecting the mesosphere.

    The [noctilucent] clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise up to the mesosphere, allowing water to crystallize around specks of meteor smoke. Usually they are best seen after the summer solstice, but this year they are getting an early start.

    What’s happening? To find out, Harvey has been looking at data from NASA’s Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), which can sense conditions 83 km high where NLCs form. “These plots show that 2020 is shaping up to be a cold and wet year in the mesosphere,” she says.

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