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.”

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so, what does it mean ? very cold but dense enough to keep the tiny ice crystals up … cold wave on it’s way ? … I have no idea, just asking

Latitude

cloud rainbows…………………

Luther Wu

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.

That qualifies as an awesome.

adolfogiurfa

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

Siliggy

Global cooling destroying the ozone layer above the Arctic in a very pretty way?

Mike Hebb

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

John F. Hultquist

“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.

Novareason

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.

Billy Liar

It’s been pretty cold in the lower Northern stratosphere recently:
http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/stratosphere/temperature/70mb9065.gif

These are common or can be in the far north and sub arctic, less common in southern Canada but we do see them, mostly in the winter.

John Cooper

Nacreous? Is that like Bodacious?

Gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

Peter Foster

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.

Bill H

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..

Bill H

the pictures are awesome.. by the way…

Lady Life Grows

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…

meemoe_uk

Saw loads of ’em in North UK, about 1996 I think.

jesusmyeverything

This is incredible! I’d love to see something like this someday – God-made beauty.

David Ball

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, …..

Kevin Kilty

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.

Kevin Kilty

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?

Does the spectroscopy indicate any CO2 crystals in those clouds?

Siliggy says:
January 15, 2012 at 9:09 am
Global cooling destroying the ozone layer above the Arctic in a very pretty way?

Indeed, it is worse than we thought.
The cloud with a dangerous secret
Atmospheric beauty is becoming more common – and that is bad news for the environment

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).

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.)
>:)

wayne

Very impressive!

Bill H

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’

Bill H

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…

AJB

My Mother told me that the lights can be seen as far south as N.Ireland…though nowhere near as dramatic.

Bill H

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..

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.

Njorway

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

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….

u.k.(us)

Very cool.
It sure is nice to “stop and smell the roses” once in a while.
Thanks, Anthony.

Siliggy

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/

Ralph

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.
.

TXRed

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.

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.

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…

Blade

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.

clipe

Was the sun above or below the horizon when these shots were taken?
““It is almost as good as the aurora borealis,” says Göran Strand, who took this picture last night from Östersund, Sweden”
Duration of day: 5 hours, 43 minutes
http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/city.html?n=294

Mr. Pedantic

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.

Sparks

I found a time lapse video of Nacreous Cloud in action.

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

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.
.

Bryan Short

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.

Bill H

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..

DirkH

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.