Nacreous cloud show at the Arctic Circle

From spaceweather.com An apparition of polar stratospheric clouds is underway around the Arctic Circle. “It is almost as good as the aurora borealis,” says Göran Strand, who took this picture last night from Östersund, Sweden:

Eric Schandall of Oslo, Norway, adds this report: “We have seen them for three evenings over Oslo, with the ones on Jan. 13th being the most dramatic and beautiful so far.”

Also known as “nacreous” or “mother of pearl” clouds, these icy clouds form in the lower stratosphere when temperatures drop to around minus 85ºC. Sunlight shining through tiny ice particles ~10µm across produce the characteristic bright iridescent colors by diffraction and interference.

“Nacreous clouds far outshine and have much more vivid colours than ordinary iridescent clouds, which are very much poor relations and seen frequently all over the world,” writes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. “Once seen they are never forgotten.”

71 thoughts on “Nacreous cloud show at the Arctic Circle

  1. Having tried to capture the brilliant colors of the sky in past, I’d guess that the photo is just a hint at the true beauty seen over Oslo.

    Mr. Schandall, thanks so much for the wonderful photo.

  2. It would good to Google for “nacreous clouds” to see if the same were seen in the past…perhaps during the Maunder Minimum.

  3. I think there’s a misprint here… -85C= -121 degrees Fahrenheit
    Never heard of anyplace measuring that much chill.
    Awesome atmospheric event regardless!

  4. “Nacreous clouds far outshine and have much more vivid colours than ordinary iridescent clouds, which are very much poor relations and seen frequently all over the world,” writes atmospheric optics expert Les Cowley. “Once seen they are never forgotten.”

    ‘ordinary’ iridescent clouds !? Come on Les, think of a better word.

    A strange choice of words. There is nothing “ordinary” about them. The colors are amazing. The motions fantastic. The effect mesmerizing. And best of all — one doesn’t have to leave home to see them.

    Still, I’d like also to see the nacreous clouds.

  5. Mike Hebb:

    Adiabetic lapse – the air gets colder the higher in the atmosphere you go, at stratospheric heights, in the middle of the winter in the arctic, that’s some mighty mean cold.

  6. With respect to Mike Hebb’s comment.
    If the US changed its units from farenheit, used only in US now, to Celcius, used by the rest of the world, then he would not have to do the conversion. The Farenheit scale is is not based on anything meaningful and is related to nothing of any use any more. Well past the time the US joined the rest of the world.
    As for -85 C, The coldest recorded surface temperture was -89.2C at Vostok station which sits near the top of the east Antarctic ice sheet at about 3500m above sea level. As atmosphere cools with altitude such temperatures are not that extreme in polar regions.

  7. Mike Hebb says:
    January 15, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I think there’s a misprint here… -85C= -121 degrees Fahrenheit
    Never heard of anyplace measuring that much chill.
    Awesome atmospheric event regardless!

    ————————————————————————————————–

    At the height of those clouds that is a near normal temp with ground temps at -45 to -55 degree F.

    The total amount of cooling over the arctic is becoming evident now. As some form of equilibrium becomes the norm that cold will push outward from the poles. Our warmer than average winters here in the states of the last few years are coming to an end. Solar Maximum reached… cooling of the arctic is topping out and now a semblance of balance is returning.

    We may have one more above average year but then all bets are off. If we follow historical trends we will cool rapidly. The return of super cold atmosphere above the arctic is a tell tale sign that we are in fact cooling rapidly..

  8. The Arctic and Antarctic seem to do opposite things from each other somehow. So, if it cools in the Arctic, we’ll soon be hearing about the tragic fate of the penguins as the Antarctic ice sheets melt. Only in whispers will it be mentioned that the pensguins would be thriving in that case…

  9. We were having an awesome winter in Calgary until last night. Arctic blast, ….. good times, good times.
    Loved the photos. Endless source of fascination our planet, …..

  10. Peter Foster says:
    January 15, 2012 at 10:12 am
    With respect to Mike Hebb’s comment.
    If the US changed its units from farenheit, used only in US now, to Celcius, used by the rest of the world, then he would not have to do the conversion. The Farenheit scale is is not based on anything meaningful and is related to nothing of any use any more.

    In general I agree that the U.S. should move toward the SI system, I certainly prefer it; but, we actually are moving this direction in many respects, perhaps more than you realize. Remember that there is a huge (huge in that it makes even the bailout of the banks look small in comparison) investment in installed plant and equipment, and appliances, that use U.S. Customary units. In other words, even if we adopted the SI system in totality tomorrow, we are likely to be faced with a dual system for another century. Learn to convert–it keeps the nervous system in shape.

    Fahrenheit is based on ITS-90 just like all other scales.

  11. Luther Wu says:
    January 15, 2012 at 8:50 am
    Having tried to capture the brilliant colors of the sky in past, I’d guess that the photo is just a hint at the true beauty seen over Oslo.

    Mr. Schandall, thanks so much for the wonderful photo.

    I’ve tried on occasion to simply get the car pulled over, get the camera out, and take a great shot, only to have the glory of the sky fade in those few moments. Great shots are sometimes just the luck of being in the right place at the right time, with camera already in hand, aren’t they?

  12. Peter Foster says:
    January 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

    With respect to Mike Hebb’s comment.
    If the US changed its units from farenheit, used only in US now, to Celcius, used by the rest of the world, then he would not have to do the conversion. The Farenheit scale is is not based on anything meaningful and is related to nothing of any use any more.

    Au contraire!

    The Fahrenheit (note the correct spelling) scale divides the range between freezing pure water and boiling pure water at sea level into 180 steps. 0°F is the freezing point of salt-saturated water, using the same steps. As the degrees are smaller, it is thus more precise than Celsius, (Note the correct spelling).

  13. P.S. Celsius is also called Centigrade, as it divides the freezing-boiling range into 100 steps (vs. the 180 used by the more exact Fahrenheit scale, as noted.)
    >:)

  14. Berényi Péter says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Considering that the CO2 threat is 1/30th of what was first touted (and could be far less than that) the CO2 add to his article is nothing more than warmer hype.. as for CFC’s that too is a old wives tale that has been debunked…

    but hey its the guardian and why would they publish anything less than trash? it seems to be their forte’

  15. agfosterjr says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Does the spectroscopy indicate any CO2 crystals in those clouds?

    ————————————————————————-

    at 25,000 to 45,000 feet the level of CO would be near zero.. molecular weight and all forces it to fall to earths surface…

  16. AJB says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Stratosphere Temperature Watch 2011/2012

    —————————————–

    I would dare say that formation of super cold atmosphere and it manifestation are much more reliable than a model…. but hey that’s just my observation..

  17. I wonder how an Aurora would look with those clouds. Isn’t that softspot on the sun about to line up with earth again? Maybe we’ll get lucky.

  18. Aaron you can’t see Auroras and Nacreous together. To see the clouds you need a bright sun, and darkness to see the Auroras

  19. Latitude says:
    January 15, 2012 at 8:47 am
    cloud rainbows…………………

    Not quite! Rainbows are formed by refraction through a ‘lens’ of a liquid water droplet, and show the classic spectral breakdown of white sunlight. These colours are interference colours caused by the refraction of polarized light through a birefringent crystalline solid, in this case ice. And as it happens, “nacreous” is no accident: the colours produced in mother of pearl are identical, caused, again, by refraction of polarized light through minute crystals of Aragonite in the shell material. Aragonite? Calcium Carbonate…….CaO+CO2……oh dear…here we go again….

  20. Berényi Péter says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:05 am
    “Indeed, it is worse than we thought.”

    You could use slightly different wording like this below.
    “As a consequence, we can expect that volcanic activity has a much higher impact on ozone depletion than previously thought.”

    http://cfc.geologist-1011.net/

  21. Flew through one of these once, mainly in the red part of the spectrum. Quite fascinating – like Bill Frog flying through the Aura Borealis, if anyone remembers that kids book.

    .

  22. If I recall correctly (always a dubious prospect), people noted nacreous clouds shortly before the outbreak of WWI and again before the onset of WW II in Europe. I suspect it was a case of correlation without a trace of causation.

  23. There are signs that the cold air above the Arctic is about to reverse. During 2011 we have experienced the westerly phase of the QBO which encourages a positive AO index and strong northern polar vortex. At higher latitudes the QBO is now entering it’s easterly phase which some are predicting should begin to see a break up of the vortex and some warming in the Arctic stratosphere. This will mean implications for the jet stream pattern.

  24. Please correct me if I’m wrong… but these days with all the S-B / no GHG stuff flying around bopping people on the nose and putting some noses out of joint…

    I’m looking at the atmospheric profile, the extraordinary W-shape we have….

    … in which our usual clouds appear in the TROPOSPHERE and nacreous clouds in the MESOSPHERE, both of which are the unstable regions. No clouds are in the stratosphere, which is stable – stratos – flat – therefore used by planes – because temperatures are RISING with height in this section…

    … due to the production of the GHG Ozone (by direct absorption of incoming UV)…

    … clear proof of the existence of GHG… but also evidence of the primary effect of the lapse rate in the turbulent sections…

  25. Peter Foster January 15, 2012 at 10:12 am says:

    “If the US changed its units from farenheit, used only in US now, to Celcius, used by the rest of the world, then he would not have to do the conversion. The Farenheit scale is is not based on anything meaningful and is related to nothing of any use any more. Well past the time the US joined the rest of the world.”

    Aww jeez, not this sh!t again. 8-(

    Tell you one thing, we sure don’t like being told what to do. Ya see, we are not followers. It is not in our nature. But for some reason those around the world that do prefer to follow find it irresistible to criticize and bait those that do not. Don’t be surprised at the less than favorable responses you get.

    Moreover, do you see us trying to tell you (or your neighbors) to stop using decimal points where commas belong? Do you see us trying to force you to drive on the right (correct) side of the road? Do you see us trying to suggest you stop calling soccer, football?

    :-) okay, some intentional SARC involved here.

    But in all seriousness, what may appear to our European and other friends as our stubbornness, is really not that at all. You see, we like to multitask over here. You would be hard pressed to be driving past a large billboard thermometer on some rural road in the back country that does not have both &degC and &degF. Multitasking is good for the mind and soul. And multitasking is what occurs to free people left alone, and not dictated to one way or another.

    Besides, I never thought it was much of a selling point for those Metric-only people to brag about how much easier base-10 math is. I always thought it was something a lazy slacker would argue. But then again I might just be an exception because I always thought that base-2 and base-16 (binary and hex) should be taught at the same time as base-10 in the elementary schools.

  26. Both the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales are centigrade scales. They are each obsolete historical units that define the 0 and 100 points in a different and problematical ways. The SI unit for temperature is the Kelvin. It is defined by the triple point of pure water which is unique quantity.

  27. Bill H says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:24 am
    agfosterjr says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:03 am

    Does the spectroscopy indicate any CO2 crystals in those clouds?

    ————————————————————————-

    at 25,000 to 45,000 feet the level of CO would be near zero.. molecular weight and all forces it to fall to earths surface…

    _____________________________________
    _____________________________________

    Then we would expect Death Valley and the Dead Sea to be CO2 rich and truly deadly. We might also expect 100 proof liquor to spontaneously separate out–pour of the alcohol and drink the dregs of a teetotaler.

    So I ask again: any evidence of CO2 in those clouds? –AGF

  28. Peter Foster says on January 15, 2012 at 10:12 am

    … The Farenheit scale is is not based on anything meaningful

    Actually, it better relates a temperature range that humans may normally experience, including normal (98.6 F) and abnormal (fevers of 102 deg F) body (core) temperature and comfortable ambient (72 deg F) as well as providing better resolution over that range than degrees C (in whole units) is capable of (are your bank thermometers denoted in xx.x degrees C or xx degrees C ?)

    If anything, IMO, the Celsius ‘degree’ scale should be scrapped for any ‘scientific’ purpose and reference only to ‘Kelvin’ be made as regards temperature.

    .

  29. I prefer Fahrenheit to Celsius for weather and cooking. I like the smaller units… plus 30˚ just isn’t hot any way you slice it. For science, Celsius is much easier. But even so, as humans progress and expand out to the stars, Celsius will be equally as worthless. It basically calibrates itself to the freezing and boiling point of 100% fresh, potable water at 1000 millibars. So then you start to realize that while Celsius is a step in the right direction.. it’s still limited. And its units are too big for convenient everyday use. So what do we do? Do we start giving the weather forecast in Kelvin? That’d be ridiculous. So in the end it all comes down to… what is convenient for humans in their environment. I am happy with Fahrenheit. I know that most things roast and bake at 350˚F, water boils around 212˚F and freezes around 32˚F… that 0˚F is a very cold day and 100˚F is a very hot day and that 70˚F and sunny with just a hint of a breeze is the perfect day for a picnic in the park. As for the nacreous clouds: They’re not a good sign for winter lovers. It is a sign that ozone destroying gases are building up in a ring around the Arctic and that temperatures are in the range to allow the destruction to begin. We’re going to see another Arctic ozone hole like last winter. Funny that someone mentioned seeing a ton of them in 1996… there was an ozone hole in the spring of 1997… the first ever recorded in the Arctic… and the only one.. until the unusually positive Arctic Oscillation last Feb-Apr created another one.

  30. agfosterjr says:
    January 15, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    You forgot Thermal layers and wind… the two reasons those places are not CO2 death traps..

  31. Peter Foster says:
    January 15, 2012 at 10:12 am
    “If the US changed its units from farenheit, used only in US now, to Celcius, used by the rest of the world, then he would not have to do the conversion. The Farenheit scale is is not based on anything meaningful and is related to nothing of any use any more.”

    Wait until you have to run your car on 100% Ethanol and you’ll see how useless it is.

  32. As far as units of measurement go, I prefer the FFF system: Furlong/Firkin/Fortnight. I suppose one could add the Fahrenheit to that, and call it the FFFF system. But as far as measuring temperature, the Kelvin and Rankine scales are naturally the best ones to use for any modern scientific calculations, with Rankine being best if you are using integers for the numbers (because of the slightly better accuracy).

    Nice picture, cool colors.

  33. Bill H, agfosterjr, et al. wonder: Is there CO2 in the stratosphere?

    The homosphere and heterosphere are defined by whether the atmospheric gases are well mixed. In the homosphere the chemical composition of the atmosphere does not depend on molecular weight because the gases are mixed by turbulence.[8] The homosphere includes the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere. Above the turbopause at about 100 km (62 mi; 330,000 ft) (essentially corresponding to the mesopause), the composition varies with altitude. This is because the distance that particles can move without colliding with one another is large compared with the size of motions that cause mixing. This allows the gases to stratify by molecular weight, with the heavier ones such as oxygen and nitrogen present only near the bottom of the heterosphere. The upper part of the heterosphere is composed almost completely of hydrogen, the lightest element.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmosphere_of_Earth

    Sounds like there is.

  34. Brian H says:
    Au contraire!

    The Fahrenheit (note the correct spelling) scale divides the range between freezing pure water and boiling pure water at sea level into 180 steps. 0°F is the freezing point of salt-saturated water, using the same steps. As the degrees are smaller, it is thus more precise than Celsius, (Note the correct spelling).

    Some folks seem to have trouble thinking their own thoughts without being a supplicant to authority structures. The SI Authoritarians are that way. I suggest not letting them and their limitations bother you. But yes, F is just as rational and in many ways far more useful than C. (greater precision being one of them) Another is that, as originally designed, the scale between freezing and body temperature was divisible by 2, you can easily make your own thermometer by marking the two end points they using dividers (compass) to make the markings. ( 96 – 32= 64 in the original F scale. It later got recalibrated so we ended up with 98.6 body temp. A mistake, IMHO, as I’d like to be able to make a thermometer using only ME and a bucket of ice water… with dividers.)

    At any rate, the actual scale used is entirely and totally irrelevant. ANY repeatable system would do. One could use the freeze and boil points of many other materials, and divide by base 2, or base 16, or base 12, or whatever; and get just as valid a system.

    There is absolutely no need whatsoever for everyone to wear the same straightjacket. Personally, I’d rather have a base 60 system as it makes divisions a whole lot easier. (The same reason that the ‘decimal time’ of the French Revolution failed… and why we kept the 60 minute hour and minute…) Same reasons donuts are sold by the dozen. Easier to share with more sets of people… ( Nothing like 3 folks sharing 10 donuts to make the non-base-10 look really useful…)

    @Blade:

    And don’t forget math by the dozens and learning to use proper fractions.

    BTW, for all the “SI Units Authoritarians”, please state, with absolute precision, every digit of what 1/3 of a meter is. I’ll wait…. BTW, 1/3 of a foot is 4 inches.

    Oh, and if folks REALLY want to insist on rational units, we can all start using Rankine for temperature. Nice fine precision of F but with an origin at zero. Same as the mediocre Kelvin scale, but with much better precision ;-)

    If it were up to me, I’d likely use mercury in a vacuum freeze / boil as the ends and divide by base 60 / 360. Would be very useful and highly repeatable anywhere in the universe… But for normal human needs on this planet, a bit hard to get the vacuum… so using body core temp (that is a nice handy and ‘stable enough for everyday use’ standard) as one end, and the freeze point of water as the other, means I can make a passable thermometer all on my own if we every have a collapse of civilization (as seems to happen ever 1500 years or so; or about every 200 for individual empires / states / republics…)

    At any rate, using base 10 for everything is highly limiting and only really of advantage to folks who can’t do proper fractions. Using fractional math you can have infinite precision in many normal things, can do it in your head, and can choose your level of precision via your choice of divisor length as the job demands.

    Pi can be 22/7 for most things. 333/106 if you want more (accurate to 3.1415) . In ancient times, 25/8 was used for early ‘rough work’ and 256/81 by the Egyptians for a bit more precision. Pyramids used 1760/280 as a working number for 2Pi (avoiding the multiply by building it into the fraction) so we could say they used 880/280 for Pi (accurate to 3.14 and a bit) which you can see reduces to 22/7 quickly ( divide 88 by 4. Divide 28 by 4. )

    Now say you want 2Pi somethings (as in calculating circles) that 333/106 becomes 333/53 with NO loss of precision and no calculator needed. Large problems can be ‘set up’ that way and the various terms ‘crossed’ as you simplify until very little is left to actually calculate. (And often you don’t even need to actually Do the calculation, just carry it forward…)

    So a 3 foot radius circle has 2Pi3 circumference or 999/53 feet to 4 “decimal places” (after the point mark… more if you count the whole part…). All done in my head faster than I can type and with no loss of precision. I’ll wait while you compute 2 x 3.1415 x 3 ….

    I was very lucky to have a Science Teacher in about 5th grade who took the time to explain all this to us (when teaching us fractions…) and another in high school who reinforced the historical value of fraction based math. It was actually a pretty big stink at the time of the French Revolution when the Decimal Authoritarians were trying to cudgel everyone into decimal math and the folks doing the science (who had to do the math long hand) were trying to point out the “issues” this brought with it…

    So, for me, I’ll keep my “fraction rich” base 12 feet. Base 60 seconds and hours. Etc.

    Oh, btw, we still use 360 degrees for the circle for the same reason… Much easier to plot courses et al and do fractional adjustments… And ever notice that a yard is 360 tenths of an inch? 6 x 60 is a very factor rich number…

    But don’t worry. We all understand that some folks are “fraction challenged” and can only count things using 10, like counting on fingers… ;-)

  35. Fahrenheit and Celsius are the same at minus 40 ( -40 ) degrees. Hence the abreviated term FC ( freaking cold) or some other choice words.

    Great photo.

  36. Re. Bill H and Commie Bob:

    Interesting comments. As far as I know (or think), the evidence for ionospheric cooling is pretty good, not like the non-evidence of low altitude warming. NASA has been having trouble predicting reentry trajectories, and they are keen to blame the shrinking ionosphere. CB presents a plausible scenario: being lighter, H2 moves faster, travels further, and so rises higher; some molecules escape altogether. Some H2 burns and some escapes–I don’t know at what ratio–I don’t know the residence time of H2.

    But this argues poorly against CO2 at the level of the highest clouds. It is probably there whether it is responsible for reduced orbital decay or not. And I’m just wondering if the peculiar color of these clouds could have anything to do with CO2 crystals at these very cold temperatures. There may be some good reason against it, just asking.

    If you separate He and O2 balloons by a semipermeable membrane, the O2 balloon will first expand at the expense of the He, and then the reverse will take place. My good high school physics teacher told us this was because of the different sizes of the molecules; as I understood his explanation at the time, the little molecules could fit more easily through the holes in the membrane. But this is not really a correct accounting: rather the smaller mass of the He (molecules) makes it bounce around faster, providing it more opportunities to find its way through the porous maze.

    Likewise, winds aid mixing in the way stirring dissolves sugar. But the solute will never filter out just because of its molecular weight properties. Nor will CO2 separate out just because it is heavier except as CB suggests, at very high altitudes where a longer mean free path and higher velocity can get it up higher. –AGF

  37. Woops, I mixed up the CO2 and H2 pretty good myself in that last paragraph. The H2 has the higher velocity; CO2 has some of the lowest. BTW, Argon is heavy, but it’s up there adding to the colors of the northern lights, I suppose. –AGF

  38. @ EM Smith

    Wow, nice argument about fractions. I have never quite thought about it in that way consciously. Though, I have unconsciously approached many problems in that way, though always wondered where the 12’s and 60’s, and such came from. I now have something new to teach a few teenagers.

  39. Beautiful picture. It never fails to delight me what aesthetic pleasures there are to be found in Nature, whether atmospheric phenomena like this or fractal / chaos patterns, etc.

    @E.M.Smith – There’s an even more (one might almost say scarily) accurate approximation to pi which I’ve used once or twice in integer computing and is quite easily remembered:
    (1) Take the first three odd numbers … 1 3 5
    (2) Double ‘em up … 113355
    (3) Split that in half … 113 355
    (4) Make those halves into … 355/113
    Result – 3.14159292. Divided by pi = 1.000000085.
    That’s near enough for rock’n’roll (or climate science)!

  40. Metrification is the dumbing down of the population, converting to the metric system that is based on nothing real world is a destructor of original thought. Ask why computers are not programmed using the decimal system?

  41. Great comment E.M. Smith. The sexagesimal (base 60) system was brought by the Sumerians, who somehow started with a base 10, but shifted to base 60. Smith neatly summarizes why they would do so. The hard divisions by 3 are made easy. The reasons they went with base 60 instead of base 30 have probably to do with the division by 12 (a factor of 60 but not 30), a very important number in astronomy (the sky was and is still divided in 12 houses or zodiacs, so a system that allowed easy division by 12 was probably god sent). Next time you look at your watch (or your protractor), remember you are looking at thousands of years of legacy.

  42. Just an aside note about Fahrenheit and Celsius:
    When you have a sick infant/baby they always use Fahrenheit instead of Celsius (least here in Can.).

  43. Probably the reason for a 360 degree circle is the large number of divisors.that result
    in a whole number: 24. No other number near its size can be divided so neatly .
    An ancient accomplishment,

  44. E.M.Smith [January 15, 2012 at 5:48 pm] says:

    “And don’t forget math by the dozens and learning to use proper fractions.

    BTW, for all the “SI Units Authoritarians”, please state, with absolute precision, every digit of what 1/3 of a meter is. I’ll wait…. BTW, 1/3 of a foot is 4 inches.

    At any rate, using base 10 for everything is highly limiting and only really of advantage to folks who can’t do proper fractions. Using fractional math you can have infinite precision in many normal things, can do it in your head, and can choose your level of precision via your choice of divisor length as the job demands.

    But don’t worry. We all understand that some folks are “fraction challenged” and can only count things using 10, like counting on fingers… ;-)”

    Yep, absolutely.. And you said it much better.

    Personally I believe the dumbing down effect that base-10 and the Metric system has done to traditional measurement units, is comparable to what Twitter and Text-Messaging is doing to languages and communication in general. Left to their own devices even an adult population will voluntarily revert to being children taking the path of least resistance.

    u no what i mean? maths is hard, lol. Hey chek out my new ringtone homey.

    It is fun though to try to explain to the young’ins that fractions are exact and precise, and back in the day if you tried to reduce X=1/3 to X=0.3333 you would get your knuckles rapped by a wooden ruler (dad, what’s a ruler?).

    If the elementary schools taught base-2 and boolean operations and simple truth tables, at the same time they learn their ’10 by’s’, the kids would get a early start to learning something they almost never ever learn these days – logic. I mentioned base-16 because of its favor amongst programmers (due to its higher density per volume and lending itself nicely to bytes), but of course you are exactly correct, any given numbering system is arbitrary. No one is ‘superior’ to another, but one is almost always better suited for a given situation.

    It’s kinda like light bulbs again! None are perfect, but there are places where one is better suited than another. We should all be able to agree that dictating any one is the mistake humans inevitably make (particularly those spineless humans that are natural born followers who possess neither logic nor common sense). It is now easy to imagine the government of the 1880’s dictating DC current or Horse Carriages if they had our modern brainless liberals in their constituency. Or perhaps in the 1980’s dictating Motorola over Intel, or … [fill in the blank].

  45. agfosterjr says:
    January 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm

    Woops, I mixed up the CO2 and H2 pretty good myself in that last paragraph. The H2 has the higher velocity; CO2 has some of the lowest. BTW, Argon is heavy, but it’s up there adding to the colors of the northern lights, I suppose. –AGF

    ;———————————————————————————————————————-

    The colors are a combination of red, green and blue.

    When an electron collides with either a nitrogen molecule, a oxygen molecule or an oxygen atom. it causes an electronic excitation of the molecule or atom.

    When the excitation decays, the molecule or atom emits a photon.

    The red is from atomic oxygen, the blue is from the molecular oxygen, and the green is from the nitrogen molecule.

    The collision comes about because the electrons are following the Earth’s magnetic field lines and the gas molecule or atom is randomly bouncing off other molecules, atoms. ions or photons.

    To conserve charge, protons (or positive charges) move in the opposite direction of the electron (or the negative charge) flow.

    Carbon dioxide isn’t a player.

  46. AJB says:
    January 15, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Stratosphere Temperature Watch 2011/2012

    ;————————————————————————————
    Thanks for posting that link – exactly what I was looking for.

  47. I always thought the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch was tripping when he painted The Scream. No longer after seeing that picture.

  48. Agile Aspect says:
    January 16, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Are you talking about the northern lights or the much lower nacreous clouds? And do Argon spectra ever show up in the northern lights? (There should be about 20 times as much Argon as CO2.) It should be possible to reproduce the conditions of the clouds in a lab to see whether CO2 can precipitate at such low concentration. –AGF

  49. Eric Schandall of Oslo, Norway
    Do you have a URL to the teperature and wind soundings over Oslo on the days?
    I’ve been unable to find one. The Norwegian Met Office web site isn’t nearly as good as that of the Australian BoM.

    There’s a sailplane high altitude project that would be interested.

  50. agfosterjr says:
    January 17, 2012 at 11:30 am

    “Are you talking about the northern lights or the much lower nacreous clouds?”

    Northern lights as per your comment above (roughly above 100km.)

    “And do Argon spectra ever show up in the northern lights?”

    The main players in the visible range are oxygen and nitrogen. It’s possible argon does too but it’s a inert gas (outer electronic shell is full) and is at low concentrations compared to oxygen and nitrogen. The spectral lines may exist but may be too faint to detect or overlap with oxygen or nitrogen. It’s also possible the argon excitations are in the UV range. I don’t know much about argon – this is a WAG.

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