· ·

Record cold in mesosphere causes noctilucent clouds to spill out of Arctic into mid-latitudes

record-cold-in-mesosphere-causes-noctilucent-clouds-to-spill-out-of-arctic-into-mid-latitudes

Temperatures at the mesosphere have been breaking 14-year records over the past few days, according to Lynn Harvey of the University of Colorado Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics. This causes noctilucent clouds to spill across the Arctic and descend to middle latitudes.

"It is rare to see them here at 49 degrees latitude," said Debra Ceravolo of Osoyoos in British Columbia, Canada.

Noctilucent clouds or NLCs are the highest clouds on Earth, floating at the edge of space more than 80 km (50 miles) above the ground. These clouds form when summertime streaks of water vapor go up the mesosphere, allowing water to crystallize around speckles of meteor smoke.

"At polar latitudes, temperatures have been breaking 14-year records in the last few days," said Harvey. This is causing NLCs to descend to mid-latitudes.

"I've been waiting for years to see NLCs, and finally it happened," said Phil Halpert from London, England, on June 7, 2020.

He rushed out to take a photo of the skies as he noticed electric-blue ripples of clouds over local rooftops in Clissold Park. "This is the first time I have ever seen noctilucent clouds over London," he exclaimed.

nlcs-june-10-2020

Image credit: Phil Halpert/Space Weather Gallery

To find out more about the occurrence, Harvey looked at data from NASA's Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS), which can detect conditions 83 km (52 miles) high where NLCs form.

"These plots show that 2020 is shaping up to be a very cold and wet year," she said.

noctilucent-zone-2020

Image credit: Space Weather Gallery

"Temperatures, in particular, are very cold. In fact, mid-latitude (35N-55N) temperatures in late May (DOY 142-148) were the coldest of the AIM record." This was since 2007 when NASA's AIM spacecraft started tracking noctilucent clouds.

Last summer, NLCs spread as far south as Los Angeles and Las Vegas, making records for being seen in low-latitudes. The phenomenon could happen again in summer as clouds are heading south, and are already within two degrees of Seattle.

Featured image credit: Phil Halpert/Space Weather Gallery

If you value what we do here, create your ad-free account and support our journalism.

Share:

Related articles

Producing content you read on this website takes a lot of time, effort, and hard work. If you value what we do here, select the level of your support and register your account.

Your support makes this project fully self-sustainable and keeps us independent and focused on the content we love to create and share.

All our supporters can browse the website without ads, allowing much faster speeds and a clean interface. Your comments will be instantly approved and you’ll have a direct line of communication with us from within your account dashboard. You can suggest new features and apps and you’ll be able to use them before they go live.

You can choose the level of your support.

Stay kind, vigilant and ready!

$5 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Instant comments
  • Direct communication
  • New features and apps suggestions
  • Early access to new apps and features

$50 /year

$10 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Instant comments
  • Direct communication
  • New features and apps suggestions
  • Early access to new apps and features

$100 /year

$25 /month

  • Ad-free account
  • Instant comments
  • Direct communication
  • New features and apps suggestions
  • Early access to new apps and features

$200 /year

You can also support us by sending us a one-off payment using PayPal:

Leave a reply