As predicted: Alarmists blame "global warming" for mystery lights in the sky

NASA image of noticlucent clouds - photographer Adrian Maricic -
NASA image of noticlucent clouds – photographer Adrian Maricic –

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

An increase in Noctilucent clouds, strange illuminated streamers of light at the edge of space, has been blamed on global warming.

According to the SFGate;

Mystery lights in space increasing, moving south, potential sign of global warming

Strange blue lights glowing on the edge of space first appeared over polar regions in 1885 and today, sightings are becoming increasingly common, and now the phenomenon is moving into lower latitudes including Northern California.

Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, these glowing space clouds may be a celestial siren, warning of Earth’s global warming, according to some scientists.

Read more:

Last year WUWT reported that Noctilucent clouds were on the increase, and predicted that global warming would be blamed. However, a NASA press release suggests Noctilucent clouds are more likely to be associated with decreased solar activity.

To study long-term changes in noctilucent clouds, Russell and his colleagues used historical temperature and water vapor records and a validated model to translate this data into information on the presence of the clouds. They used temperature data from 2002 to 2011 from NASA’s Thermosphere Ionosphere Mesosphere Energetics and Dynamics, or TIMED, mission and water vapor data from NASA’s Aura mission from 2005 to 2011. They used a model previously developed by Mark Hervig, a co-author on the paper at GATS, Inc., in Driggs, Idaho.

The team tested the model by comparing its output to observations from the Osiris instrument on the Swedish Odin satellite, which launched in 2001, and the SHIMMER instrument on the U.S. Department of Defense STPSat-1 mission, both of which observed low level noctilucent clouds over various time periods during their flights. The output correlated extremely well to the actual observations, giving the team confidence in their model.

Russell and his team will research further to determine if the noctilucent cloud frequency increase and accompanying temperature decrease over the 10 years could be due to a reduction in the sun’s energy and heat, which naturally occurred as the solar output went from solar maximum in 2002 to solar minimum in 2009.

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August 24, 2015 8:28 pm

Sounds about right. Here in Edmonton,AB tonight we have a beautiful waxing,red,half moon. Of course this is a blue moon month, but GW will take the blame. Never mind all the smoke from those fires in WA state invading us Canucks. Oh wait. That would be a GW caused wind shift. Nevermind.

Reply to  Justthinkin
August 24, 2015 8:31 pm

Of course and they’ll try and bury all evidence from past times of great fires. Inflate the present concerns and deflate past reality is the AGW’s way of life.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Justthinkin
August 24, 2015 9:57 pm

I remember watching the “Great Smoke Pall” – I was in western Pennsylvania.
Now I live in Washington State. So, 65 years later the tables are turned. This month’s fires are 2 hours drive north of us but we had a red moon last night. Tonight, all is clear via a wind shift.

Reply to  Justthinkin
August 25, 2015 6:58 am

Folks, Tony Phillips of NASA explains that NLCs are fueled by meteor smoke at the TOA, not terrestrial fires. It appears to have more to do with cosmic radiation or other energized particles and water vapor being nucleated with meteor dust aerosols.

Reply to  Dawtgtomis
August 26, 2015 12:39 pm

What about stratospheric volcanic aerosol injections?

August 24, 2015 8:28 pm

We need to take pictures and archive the alarmism so people in the future can’t deny it ever occurred.

August 24, 2015 8:29 pm

Noctilucent clouds were noticed and talked about as being more frequent and farther from the poles during the little ice-age, but of course the peddlers of lies and misinformation are spinning their occurrence as a sign of global warming. “Gag.”

Reply to  Tim
August 24, 2015 8:41 pm

As far as I know, NLCs were first noticed two years following the Krakatoa explosion in 1883. The connection to the volcanic eruption may be a coincidence. Altering the chemistry of the mesosphere is a possible culprit.

Reply to  Tim
August 24, 2015 11:39 pm

Do you have a reference for that? It woudl be interesting.

Reply to  Shelly Marshall
August 25, 2015 7:00 am

Lots of info in the archives of

Reply to  Tim
August 25, 2015 3:44 am

Has any group(s) been officially tasked to keep track of NLC events? Is there a formal NLC metric (count, frequency, index etc)? Where are these records maintained?
Or are these observations biased, like “shark bites”, where one report tends to generate a flurry of excitement and more reports?

Reply to  Johanus
August 25, 2015 4:04 am

I did find a few websites dedicated to NLC, apparently run by dedicated amateur observers, who make periodic reports (including negative reports, which helps to reduce the ‘shark-bite’ bias)
The last site has this interesting posting about NASA finding a correlation of NLC with ‘meteor smoke’:

Reply to  Johanus
August 25, 2015 7:03 am

Here is the daily picture from the AIM Spacecraft (posted at 365 days a year).

August 24, 2015 8:31 pm

C02, what can’t you do?
Quick, someone smarter than me (Sven), whats the Sun up to? Magnetic field wise, Is it reducing in strength?
Since these clouds are made up of water ice, if more cosmic ray activity is getting thru, could we be seeing the cosmic finger print in the upper atmosphere?
Usually I blame the Stars Being Right, and Cthulhu et al, but methinks this could be particle based.
This time…

Reply to  zenrebok
August 24, 2015 9:13 pm

Per Penn & Livingston (2006) “a time series of this magnetic field data showed a
decrease in the umbral magnetic field strength which was independent of the normal sunspot cycle.”
Here is the Umbral Intensity and Magnetic Field graph that Leif maintains, also available on WUWT’s

  • Solar Reference Page
  • :
    [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="620"] Leif Svalgaard – Click the pic to view at source[/caption]

    Reply to  Just The Facts
    August 24, 2015 9:35 pm

    Excellent! See, I call out for someone smarter than me self to turn up and they do!
    I had an inkling it was down a smidge.
    Got a notion that Alpha particles are upsizing Nitrogen up to Oxygen and spitting out hydrogen in the form of a spare proton, possibly increasing fine particle ice high up. Only alpha is short lived, and the Sun is a bit distance, so i’m probably wrong.

    Tom in Florida
    Reply to  Just The Facts
    August 25, 2015 8:11 am

    “Got a notion that Alpha particles are upsizing Nitrogen up to Oxygen and spitting out hydrogen in the form of a spare proton, possibly increasing fine particle ice high up”
    Not sure it works that way. Usually C12 makes O16 with an addition of an alpha particle but that happens inside stars as Fred Hoyle figured out. Check this :

    August 24, 2015 8:36 pm

    took several photos of them when I lived in Ft. McMurray doing lots of Astronomy back then…(early 80’s), however, those ones were caused by global cooling at the time…

    Reply to  Lance
    August 25, 2015 12:53 am

    You just thought it was global cooling. We now know it was caused by a teleconnection to future CO2 with inverted lag.

    August 24, 2015 8:44 pm

    The clouds are converging on Area 52, where they will waken the aliens being held there since 1947. The aliens will then fix their ship and fly around the world, fixing global warming by punishing the oil, coal and GMO company executives who are responsible for all evil in the world.

    Reply to  hunter
    August 25, 2015 2:28 am

    “Potentially”… yes.

    Reply to  hunter
    August 25, 2015 12:03 pm

    You mean “Area 51”? (Please don’t tell me they changed the designation!)

    Reply to  brians356
    August 28, 2015 6:53 pm

    No difference – the relevant issue is consensus; we should organize a focus group.
    Dr. Eric Karlstrom, retired physical geography professor, Maurice Strong’s neighbor in Crestone, CO, says the Baca Ranch is a real UFO hotspot; also the US headquarters of the Committee of 300 (Olympians); “the Vatican City of the New World Order”.

    Jeff Mitchell
    Reply to  hunter
    August 25, 2015 6:23 pm

    Area 52 is a small town in Netherstorm in the game World of Warcraft and is a spoof of Area 51. The rocket pilot in area 52 occasionally comes out and quotes from the song “Rocket Man” next to a large 50s art style rocket.

    August 24, 2015 8:48 pm

    Really getting comical.

    August 24, 2015 8:58 pm

    May as well plagiarize the Old prophets.
    As omen , an omen.
    A beast will rise…
    Signs on the firmament..
    The problem with a cult this gullible is that it almost impossible to parody or mock.

    August 24, 2015 9:05 pm

    I feel like we are stuck on a merry-go-round, here is my comment from 2011, still pertinent:
    This previous WUWT thread on noctilucent clouds is pertinent;
    particularly this quote from
    “There is a well-known correlation between noctilucent clouds and the solar cycle.
    NLC activity tends to peak during (and just after) years of solar minimum, possibly because low solar activity allows the upper atmosphere to cool, promoting the growth of ice crystals that make up the clouds. With the sun slowly emerging from a century-class minimum, the stage could be set for a good season of NLC watching.”
    and these charts:
    Also, this 2009 article from;
    states that:
    “2009 has been a good year for noctilucent clouds–and that’s no surprise. Noctilucent clouds almost always surge during years of solar minimum such as 2009. No one fully understands the link, but here is a popular idea: Low solar activity allows the upper atmosphere to cool, promoting the formation of tiny ice crystals that make up noctilucent clouds. Browse the gallery for observing tips and more snapshots from July 12th and 13th:”

    Reply to  Just The Facts
    August 25, 2015 1:40 am

    There is a well-known correlation between noctilucent clouds and the solar cycle.
    There is also a correlation between the solar quietus and the global warming “hiatus.” Snow cover for the northern hemisphere increased dramatically during the quietus, correlating with the longest span of above average snow cover on the modern record, from 2007-2014:comment image
    Less snow on average in the 70’s was a sure sign of global cooling.

    August 24, 2015 9:10 pm

    It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that we’re going through a rapid geomagnetic reversal….But who know, not enough research is going into it.

    Reply to  dog
    August 25, 2015 12:35 am

    Please define “rapid” in terms of a geomagnetic reversal.
    And what evidenced do you have for this geomagnetic reversal?

    August 24, 2015 9:13 pm

    If this is an indication of global warming then the pause doesn’t exist. Simple deduction and that messy pause is dead with the stroke of a pen. Revisionism is science as practiced in climatology. Turn off the satellites – they’re not needed.

    Reply to  dp
    August 24, 2015 9:20 pm

    They must have spent Millions trying to find an excuse to get rid of RSS and UAH, or finding a reason to ignore their data. It has to be the biggest thorn in their CO2 balloon.

    Reply to  kokoda
    August 25, 2015 11:39 am

    Wouldn’t CO2 balloons go over like lead ones (straight to the ground)?

    August 24, 2015 9:39 pm

    I wonder if Sprites and Trolls will make the cut soon? From ISS in the link. Interesting stuff, no matter…….

    August 24, 2015 9:45 pm

    Sorry, it appears the linked site will not let me post the archived page from the 21st of this month. Top right to change date.

    Moose from the EU
    August 24, 2015 9:45 pm

    The more ridiculous their claims get the more they are losing it. The end is nigh for the AGW meme…

    Phil B.
    Reply to  Moose from the EU
    August 25, 2015 1:20 am

    They’re fast running out of other people’s money to spend.
    Sadly that means they’re succeeding at their goal of taking away everyone else’s money.

    Reply to  Phil B.
    August 28, 2015 7:00 pm

    ” running out of other people’s money to spend” – naw, they haven’t even started confiscating retirement accounts, and the value of gold fillings hasn’t been mentioned.

    August 24, 2015 10:27 pm

    P.S. Forget about the Chicago Fire of October 8, 1871, do a search for the Peshtigo fire on the same day. Global fires go back in history. Peshtigo fire was far worse, but in the unreported Frozen Tundra of Wisconsin.

    August 25, 2015 12:32 am

    My, those people in San Francisco are a superstitious lot!

    August 25, 2015 12:50 am

    It’s meteor smoke. We’re likely in a slightly dustier part of the galaxy than we were a few decades back.

    Reply to  crosspatch
    August 25, 2015 12:50 am
    Reply to  crosspatch
    August 25, 2015 1:09 am

    August 25, 2015 at 12:50 am
    It’s meteor smoke. We’re likely in a slightly dustier part of the galaxy than we were a few decades back.
    August 25, 2015 at 12:50 am
    Sorry, I forgot the link:
    That link seems to be associating these clouds with increasing methane ïn the usual way that everything is due to increasing greenhouse gasses 🙁
    ” Russell explains: “When methane makes its way into the upper atmosphere, it is oxidized by a complex series of reactions to form water vapor. This extra water vapor is then available to grow ice crystals for NLCs.”
    If this idea is correct, noctilucent clouds are a sort of “canary in a coal mine” for one of the most important greenhouse gases. ”

    Reply to  crosspatch
    August 25, 2015 1:10 pm

    Toby, ice crystals need something to cling to and energy to make the process happen. The extra water created by a complex chemical reaction is not readily measurable and is only one of the factors in cloud formation. No one has ever sampled a NLC that I am aware of, so everything is theory at this time.

    Phil B.
    August 25, 2015 1:19 am

    If they’re blaming noctilucent clouds on global warming, I take it as a saving grace that if we have another Carrington event level CME all the electronics will be fried and I won’t have to listen to the GW alarmists’ drivel.

    August 25, 2015 1:33 am

    To global warming, the cause of and solution to all weather’s problems.

    Reply to  classicalhero7
    August 25, 2015 1:23 pm

    [sounds of gasses clinking and hearty laughter]

    Reply to  Dawtgtomis
    August 25, 2015 1:25 pm

    OOps, Freudian slip- that’s glasses!

    August 25, 2015 2:02 am

    So a polar phenomenon migrates to temperate regions because…warming?
    I guess last week it was warming causing frost so why not?

    August 25, 2015 2:23 am

    …potential sign of global warming…

    It’s also a potential sign that mass baldness will afflict the world. Already I’ve noticed extra hair in my comb since the clouds have shown up and that’s alarming!
    Update: My wife says she has been using my comb on the cats… nevermind.

    August 25, 2015 3:07 am

    The team tested the model by comparing its output to observations from the Osiris instrument on the Swedish Odin satellite.

    The output correlated extremely well to the actual observations, giving the team confidence in their model.

    Wait a minute, these guys are doing actual science!
    They make a model and compare it to real data, then conclude that since their model and real world data correlate it gives them confidence in their model. Note that they don’t claim that it PROVES their model, but just that it gives them confidence.
    Someone needs to let these guys know that what with doing actual science they will never get a grant from the climate change establishment.

    August 25, 2015 3:25 am

    They could have said that it is a mechanism of releasing the extra energy the Earth atmosphere is accumulating. Which it will explain the “pause” or the “deceleration of warming”,, depending on whether you are looking at the raw temperatures or the adjusted ones, Sort of a negative feedback, but negative feedbacks are a no-no in climate science because they are not scary and therefore you cannot use them to increase your grant money.

    August 25, 2015 4:02 am

    Clouds are not my area of expertise, but wouldn’t the more southerly formation of noctilucent clouds imply global cooling, at that altitude?

    Reply to  ScienceABC123
    August 25, 2015 4:27 am

    “global cooling”
    What? You should know by now there is only Global Warming and Climate Change. Global Cooling was just a media stunt from the 70’s. No real scientists “believed” it to be true, so it doesn’t exist.

    Reply to  ScienceABC123
    August 25, 2015 5:43 am

    Yes, it is well known, and virtually undisputed by scientists, that CO2 cools the middle atmosphere (stratosphere and mesosphere) by radiating thermal energy into outer space. But it is also known that ozone heats the stratosphere more strongly than CO2 cools it, so temps rise with altitude in the stratosphere, in effect, defining it. There is no ozone in the mesosphere, so the CO2 cooling dominates and temps fall with altitude. (global distribution of CO2 in mesosphere)
    It’s always below freezing in the mesosphere, so this cooling does not by itself increase cloudiness. The necessary ingredients for making clouds are water vapor and particles to assist nucleation. Water vapor is very scarce, usually less than 5ppm. Dust is introduced from volcanoes, rockets and meteorites etc.
    So noctilucent clouds, floating in the mesosphere (50km-90km) approximately where the ‘meteor dust’ is heaviest, offer visual evidence of where the water vapor/dust concentrations are highest. (3D model of water vapor in mesosphere)

    Tom J
    August 25, 2015 5:13 am

    How long before Global Warming lands, gets out of its spaceship, and says, “Take me to your leader.”

    Bruce Cobb
    August 25, 2015 5:44 am

    Phillips said the ties to global warming are still being explored.

    I’ll bet they are. Anything to hitch up to the glo-warm climate gravy bandwagon.

    John L
    August 25, 2015 6:09 am

    May as well go biblical. Red moon tetrad and blue clouds being signs
    in the sky with a much earlier provenance than AGW.

    Reply to  John L
    August 25, 2015 2:21 pm

    “Do not learn the way of the Gentiles;
    Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,
    For the Gentiles are dismayed at them.
    For the customs of the peoples are futile”
    Jeremiah recommends not getting your theology from Youtube. 🙂 :D:

    August 25, 2015 6:17 am

    I always love the term “according to some scientists” …. reminds me of the parody on the Goodies
    Tim: Look at this! Nine out of every ten doctors agree that people who don’t eat Sunbeam sliced bread will get squashed by elephants!
    Graeme: That’s right. Mind you, it did take us a long time to find the right nine doctors

    August 25, 2015 6:52 am

    The big question is — what do the noctilucent clouds do to albedo, assuming not unreasonably that they are there day and night? A 1% change in albedo makes a huge difference in forcing as it is taken “off the top”, directly proportional to the ~1370 W/m^2 TOA insolation. This could be a missing mechanism for global cooling in times of low solar activity, unexpected because it occurs well above the troposphere or even the stratosphere where we sort of understand some things.
    There is a short novella by Murray Leinster (class SF author) wherein his main character saves a borderline world — one so cold that the CO2 in its atmosphere is about to fall as snow, causing its greenhouse effect to vanish and irreversibly transforming it into a ball of ice and frozen air — by lofting photoluminescent metal gas into the space surrounding the planet, putting inside a “comet’s tail”. This basically surrounds the planet with a weak “space blanket”, and warms it enough to rescue it from oblivion and then some. However, like all clouds one has to account for increased daytime cooling due to the increased dayside albedo before worrying about the reduced nighttime cooling, and for the Earth as a whole the balance is towards cooling, not warming.
    One wonders what the major albedo experiments are showing…

    Reply to  rgbatduke
    August 25, 2015 1:44 pm

    l have been wondering for awhile now if there is a link between the lack of warming over the north pole during the summer months and the growth in night shining cloud. ln recent years during the winter months the air temps have spent most of the time above the long term average over the north pole. But during the summer months the air temps have stuck very close to the long term average. lts as if there is some limit stopping them from going higher. Am wondering if this due to increase in night shining cloud.

    Julian Flood
    August 25, 2015 10:04 am

    On a navex out to 20W from the UK I once saw a nacreous cloud right out over the Atlantic and, the next night, a patch of noctilucent cloud at the same location. It would seem reasonable to see if the two phenomena occur together, as both are formed in the stratosphere.
    If so, why would there be more nacreous clouds? I know nothing about them and why they form — they seem quite rare beasts.

    Sun Spot
    August 25, 2015 11:49 am

    Why its obvious, AGW is causing the sky to fall, bawk bawk bawk bawk.
    do I really need /sarc

    August 25, 2015 1:35 pm

    Does anyone have any knowledge that they’ll share on the difference in energy required to form clouds at varying altitudes, given the same aerosols and water concentrations? I am curious.

    August 25, 2015 2:04 pm
    That region is very weird, very interesting. About 96 km or 60-65 miles is the layer tested by the ATREX mission.
    “The Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment (ATREX) is a Heliophysics sounding rocket mission that will gather information needed to better understand the process responsible for the high-altitude jet stream located 60 to 65 miles above the surface of the Earth.
    The high-altitude jet stream is higher than the one commonly reported in weather forecasts. The winds found in this upper jet stream typically have speeds of 200 to well over 300 mph and create rapid transport from the Earth’s mid latitudes to the polar regions. This jet stream is located in the same region where strong electrical currents occur in the ionosphere. It is therefore a region with a lot of electrical turbulence, of the type that can adversely affect satellite and radio communications.”

    Reply to  Zeke
    August 25, 2015 2:44 pm

    What are some possible inputs for the electron density, wind speeds, and changing latitudes of all of these atmospheric layers?
    1. Fast electrons from the sun, possibly interacting with the Van Allen belts, and coupled with the ionosphere
    2. ionizing radiation from the sun
    3. changing magnetic field of earth
    4. variable efield between earth’s surface and ionospheric layer which rapidly oscillates during lightning storms and is also linked to the ionosphere through these discharges above the clouds called sprites.

    August 25, 2015 2:25 pm

    Reblogged this on Public Secrets and commented:
    And yet they accuse us of being superstitious. These people see their dread demon CO2 and its evil works everywhere.

    Matt G
    August 25, 2015 3:55 pm

    On the disappearance of noctilucent clouds during the January 2005 solar proton events
    “A possible connection between the January 2005 solar proton events (SPEs) and the partial disappearance of Noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the southern polar mesopause region is studied. Space-borne measurements of the NLC occurrence rate made with SCIAMACHY on Envisat as well as temperature measurements with MLS on Aura are employed. Immediately after the onset of the enhanced solar particle precipitation on January 16, 2005, we observe a severe decrease in the NLC occurrence rate. Between 70°S–80°S the NLC occurrence rate drops from about 80% to less than 20% within the period of enhanced solar proton fluxes. Throughout this period an anti-correlation between NLC occurrence rate and temperatures at NLC altitude is found, and the disappearance of NLCs is apparently caused by increasing temperatures. Potential mechanisms leading to the warming are discussed.”
    A better understanding of the potential impact of solar proton events as well as energetic electron events is required, particularly since SPEs occur more frequently during solar maximum, and a solar cycle variation in NLC occurrence frequencies or NLC albedos may be introduced.
    Seems to me that the increased recent noctilucent clouds have been due to longer and quieter solar periods. There have been historical reports in the past of amazing noctilucent cloud events frequently shown around the Little Ice Age and early 20th century. Maybe what’s been observed should also occur in the northern polar mesopause region too, with noticeable increased noctilucent clouds.

    August 25, 2015 4:08 pm

    One of my toenails went all funny and the doctor gave some anti-fungal nail varnish.
    I reckon that was global warming too, should I report it to Gavin Schmitt?

    Neil Jordan
    August 25, 2015 5:58 pm

    “Strange blue light glowing at the edge of space first appeared over polar regions in 1885. . .” As I recall from an earlier WUWT post, there were no scientists or polar observers in polar regions before 1885. This NLC article is an example of argument from ignorance
    Sent from my iPhone

    Andrew Duffin
    August 26, 2015 2:38 am

    “Strange blue lights glowing on the edge of space first appeared over polar regions in 1885”
    Um, I think that should be “…were first noticed in 1885…”.
    Rather like the “hole” in the Ozone layer, they were there all the time but nobody looked, or had the instruments to see.

    Matt G
    August 26, 2015 3:32 pm

    Before 1885 these lights were seen in Northern Europe on occasions and a polar visit wasn’t always necessary. The Vikings and our Scandinavian ancestors used to watch the northern lights and they were seen in Northern Canada and Northern areas of Russia and Asia too. Not that nobody looked, you didn’t need to visit the polar regions to see it during past history.

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