Strange events: Earth’s upper atmosphere creating glowing clouds

Via NASA: extra water vapor in the mesosphere is creating more glowing nighttime clouds

This summer, something strange has been happening in the mesosphere. The mesosphere is a layer of the atmosphere so high that it almost touches space.

Layers of the atmosphere: exosphere; thermosphere; mesosphere; stratosphere and troposphere. vertical structure of the earth’s atmosphere. layers drawn to scale, objects within the layers are not to scale

In the rarefied air 83 km above Earth’s surface, summertime wisps of water vapor wrap themselves around specks of meteor smoke. The resulting swarms of ice crystals form noctilucent clouds (NLCs), which can be seen glowing in the night sky at high latitudes.

And, no, that’s not the strange thing.

Northern sky watchers have grown accustomed to seeing these clouds in recent years. They form in May, intensify in June, and ultimately fade in July and August. This year, however, something different happened. Instead of fading in late July, the clouds exploded with unusual luminosity. Kairo Kiitsak observed this outburst on July 26th from Simuna, Estonia:

Taken by Kairo Kiitsak on July 26, 2018 @ Simuna, Estonia

“It was a mind-blowing display,” says Kiitsak. “The clouds were visible for much of the night, rippling brightly for at least 3 hours.”

Other observers saw similar displays in July and then, in August, the clouds persisted. During the first half of August 2018, reports of NLCs to have tripled compared to the same period in 2017. The clouds refuse to go away.

Researchers at the University of Colorado may have figured out why. “There has been an unexpected surge of water vapor in the mesosphere,” says Lynn Harvey of Colorado’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). This plot, which Harvey prepared using data from NASA’s satellite-based Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) instrument, shows that the days of late July and August 2018 have been the wettest in the mesosphere for the past 11 years:

“July went out like a lion!” says Harvey.

In addition to being extra wet, the mesosphere has also been a bit colder than usual, according to MLS data. The combination of wet and cold has created favorable conditions for icy noctilucent clouds.

Harvey and her colleagues are still working to understand how the extra water got up there. One possibility involves planetary wave activity in the southern hemisphere which can, ironically, boost the upwelling of water vapor tens of thousands of miles away in the north. The phenomenon could also be linked to solar minimum, now underway. It is notable that the coldest and wettest years in the mesosphere prior to 2018 were 2008-2009–the previous minimum of the 11-year solar cycle.

Source: NASA Spaceweather

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August 15, 2018 5:13 pm

How does water vapor get into the Mesosphere? Isn’t it more likely that water vapor is entering from outside the atmosphere rather than floating up in unusual quantities into the Mesosphere!!? Why is H2O (water-ice) so abundant on Pluto’s surface? There is likely an outside source. It can’t have been sitting there for 4.5 billion years, can it?

August 15, 2018 9:23 pm

Not only that – but water vapor cant exist at those low temperatures – it will be ICE, not vapor. Same reason Antarctica has zero percent water vapor in the air. One would think that the solar system is full of ice debris – tiny grains of ice that would be constantly falling onto earth in the same way that small meteors constantly fall

Reply to  ggm
August 15, 2018 10:37 pm

Ice needs a certain amount of pressure to exist. At some point, too little pressure will make ice sublimate and turn to water vapor. No mystery in that, simple basic physics.

Wim Röst
August 16, 2018 2:22 am

William Abbott: “How does water vapor get into the Mesosphere?”

Probably by import through the upper air from lower latitudes. I suppose that the descending air at the poles causes movements in the upper layers of the atmosphere, transporting water vapor.

More info about water vapor in the mesosphere:
Wintertime water vapor in the polar upper mesosphere and lower thermosphere: First satellite observations by Odin submillimeter radiometer


August 17, 2018 1:19 pm

Thanks for posting that. I’d lost that link, which is quite useful when discussing alternative causes of sea level rise

August 15, 2018 5:14 pm

A striking picture.

August 15, 2018 5:17 pm

Me so fear big scary mesophere

Reply to  Bryan
August 15, 2018 7:54 pm

I had miso noodle soup with bok choy last night.

August 15, 2018 5:21 pm

Maybe it drifted upward following the big release of water vapor during super El Nino of 2015-16.

Might be instructive to check the years after super El Nino 1998-99.

Water being lighter than air.

August 15, 2018 5:31 pm

Could be they are desperate for alarming climate impacts. A case of climate change goes to Hollywood.

August 15, 2018 5:37 pm

late July and August 2018 have been the wettest in the mesosphere for the past 11 years: In addition to being extra wet, the mesosphere has also been a bit colder than usual, according to MLS data

Can someone tell me how or if this has any effect on weather or climate?

Wim Röst
Reply to  Latitude
August 16, 2018 2:30 am

Latitude: “Can someone tell me how or if this has any effect on weather or climate?”

Water vapor emits radiation, net space ward at that altitude. Emitting radiation means cooling the local atmosphere: visible. Cooling the local atmosphere must (!) influence climate and weather, even when we don’t know how.

More on water vapor higher in the atmosphere in my comment above:

Reply to  Wim Röst
August 16, 2018 7:01 am

Water emits in all directions equally. Just as all other GHGs do.

Any radiation downwards is more likely to be intercepted by other GHGs than is radiation being emitted upwards.

However, if there were no water vapor in the mesosphere, we would be making the exact same statement about GHGs in the layer below the mesosphere. So the net impact is none.
To put it another way, water vapor in the mesosphere means that radiation from the lower layers is more likely to be intercepted and radiated back downwards.

Wim Röst
Reply to  MarkW
August 16, 2018 8:21 am

MarkW: “To put it another way, water vapor in the mesosphere means that radiation from the lower layers is more likely to be intercepted and radiated back downwards.”

WR: The air at that altitude is that thin that the chance of interception is very low. But there will be a lot of collisions of water vapor with other molecules (N2, O2) that result in emission. Just a very small part of those emissions is downward, most is sideward and upward. What rests is the cooling effect after spaceward emission: the mesosphere layer (also N2, O2) cools and that will have a weather/climate effect.

Reply to  Wim Röst
August 16, 2018 9:20 am

In thin air, the chance of collisions goes down as well. The molecule of water molecule is as likely to give energy to the N2 or O2 molecule as receive energy from it.

Wim Röst
Reply to  MarkW
August 16, 2018 11:54 am

It is far above the Effective Emission Height. There will be a high net emission direction space which for the part of ‘collissional to H2O transmitted energy’ would not have happened without the presence of those water vapor molecules. O2, N2 don’t emit, H2O does do. For that there is a cooling effect by H2O at that height.

Reply to  Wim Röst
August 17, 2018 6:44 am

According to my calculations, once you are up that high the earth is like a little marble below you, so even when emissions are downwards they are likely to miss the planet.

Of course, my calculations could be wrong…

Reply to  Caleb Shaw
August 17, 2018 1:44 pm

Your calculations might be wrong but your geometry is spot on. Rays from a point any height above a sphere are more likely to miss than hit the sphere, more and more likely with more and more height.

Reply to  mellyrn
August 17, 2018 3:02 pm

Where is that spherical error accounted for in the radiation budgets?

Dave Dodd
August 15, 2018 5:38 pm

The chemtrailers are RIGHT! lol!

Reply to  Dave Dodd
August 16, 2018 7:50 am

… breathing their own vapors …

John in Oz
August 15, 2018 5:40 pm

Let me be the first to claim that this is further proof of CAGW, its worse than we thought (even though we did not think of this phenomenon being affected by CAGW) and climate scientists should be given more money to study it /sarc

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  John in Oz
August 18, 2018 12:53 pm

Wikipedia suggests there is a connection between the increase of noctilucent clouds and climate change. NASA suggests it follows the 11-year solar cycle. What is one to believe? After all, Wikipedia is at the top of the search results /s

Robert of Ottawa
August 15, 2018 5:50 pm

Interesting, but insignificant, correlation with the Solar cycle.

Farmer Ch E retired
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
August 18, 2018 1:13 pm

Like the insignificant correlation with CO2. Do you have any statistics to back up the “insignificant correlation with the Solar Cycle” claim?

August 15, 2018 5:50 pm

Enjoy the phenomenon and phenomenal thought before some bastard comes along and blames it on global warming.

M__ S__
August 15, 2018 6:28 pm

Don’t we get more clouds when the neutron flux increases?

Wouldn’t we get more luminosity as the Earth’s magnetic field weakens?

Not my area, but these are two immediate thoughts.

bruce ryan
August 15, 2018 6:53 pm

Would this water (ice) at 85 km have risen as ice for 70km? It really isn’t water vapor if its ice is it?

SL Charbonneau
Reply to  bruce ryan
August 15, 2018 7:13 pm

Can water vapour be below freezing and still be vapour? Or does a water molecule have to be above freezing to be vapour.

Reply to  SL Charbonneau
August 15, 2018 7:28 pm

The boiling and freezing points of water of course depend upon altitude.

Atmospheric pressure is very wispy at 85 km.

Reply to  Theo
August 16, 2018 8:46 am

At the pressures in the Mesosphere the temperature needs to be below 150K for ice to form, can be a bit higher when there’s some NO2 around such as in the polar stratosphere. The water could come from the troposphere but another source is methane reacting with OH radicals. The coldest temperatures occur in the mesosphere around the summer solstice, the meteor showers that have just finished will give a lot of condensation nuclei.

Reply to  SL Charbonneau
August 16, 2018 7:03 am

Ice is a crystalline form of water. Individual molecules of water are just that H2O, absent other molecules to bond to, the concept of liquid water or ice just doesn’t make sense.

Reply to  bruce ryan
August 15, 2018 11:21 pm

Thermosphere at 1500C needs some condensation to sweat.

J Mac
August 15, 2018 6:57 pm

ren had some very interesting comments on this topic a few days back but I can’t seem to find the article he had those comments appended to….

Reply to  J Mac
August 16, 2018 12:18 am

The local increase in temperature in the lower stratosphere is responsible for the increase of water vapor in the mesosphere. Through these “holes” the water vapor escapes into the stratosphere.
“In this study we show that correspondence of the main structures of geomagnetic field, near surface air temperature and surface pressure in the mid-latitudes, reported previously in the 1st part of the paper, has its physical foundation. The similar pattern, found in latitude-longitude distribution of the lower stratospheric ozone and specific humidity, allows us to close the chain of causal links, and to offer a mechanism through which geomagnetic field could influence on the Earth’s climate. It starts with a geomagnetic modulation of galactic cosmic rays (GCR) and ozone production in the lower stratosphere through ion-molecular reactions initiated by GCR. The alteration of the near tropopause temperature (by O3 variations at these levels) changes the amount of water vapour in the driest part of the upper troposphere/lower stratosphere (UTLS), influencing in such a way on the radiation balance of the planet. This forcing on the climatic parameters is non-uniformly distributed over the globe, due to the heterogeneous geomagnetic field controlling energetic particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere.”

Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 12:21 am

The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 49,000 ft) and at high geomagnetic latitudes.

Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 8:13 am

So where do we see this increase in ozone. Is it noticeable – detectable?, Or is this an assumption. I see no change.

Reply to  J Mac
August 16, 2018 12:37 am

If we look at the anomalies of the geopotential height above the polar circle, we will understand that the water vapor escapes into the stratosphere above the 65th parallel. So it will continue during the solar minimum.
comment image
You can see another wave.

Bob Weber
Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 1:26 pm

The WV waves in arctic GPH are from TSI pulse driven tropical evaporation events:

comment image

Reply to  J Mac
August 16, 2018 12:44 am

Ionization by GCR is rapidly growing from 9 km.
GCR radiation is almost at the level of 2009.

J Mac
Reply to  J Mac
August 16, 2018 10:16 pm

Thanks for jumping in here, ren!

Chris Raymond
August 15, 2018 7:02 pm

So are the clouds creating light or simply reflecting the sun’s light much later into the night as they are much higher than regular stratospheric clouds ?

Reply to  Chris Raymond
August 16, 2018 9:39 am

The latter. Incidentally I have also noticed that there has been an unusual amount of noctilucent clouds around in northern Europe this summer.

August 15, 2018 7:53 pm

I never gets to see da noctilucent clouds. They’re always some place else. Not fair!

(Digs toe in dirt, sniffles.)

Reply to  Sara
August 15, 2018 7:58 pm

WY might not be far enough north.

ray boorman
August 15, 2018 9:04 pm

What is the big deal?

The graph indicates the amount of water has increased from a maximum of 5.75 parts/million to 6.1 ppm, & it stayed higher for a few extra weeks. That is an increase of less than 5%.

Have we reached another tipping point caused by human activities? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink)

Joel O'Bryan
August 15, 2018 9:20 pm

It is called Negative Feedback.
We live on a water planet.
The 4+ Gyr climate system is attempting to limit energy loss to space.
But with solar min approaching, we are headed in for a cold spell.

Charles Nelson
August 15, 2018 11:24 pm

Could someone tell me exactly ‘what’ is being measured at at temperature of 1500˚C in the thermosphere?

Reply to  Charles Nelson
August 15, 2018 11:35 pm

Probably the occasional stray molecule. The atmosphere gets pretty diffuse at that altitude.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Charles Nelson
August 16, 2018 12:42 am

The water vapor is making is way to the Mesosphere, not the thermosphere.
In the thermosphere, H2O gets dissociated to atomic oxygen and atomic hydrogen.

Why it is there (in the upper mesosphere) in increased abundance is likely due to some mechanism whereby ozone production (from oxygen) has decreased due to lower EUV/UV. We are approaching solar min where UV/EUV flux is bottomed out.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 12:46 am

Without any question, the chemistry says,
a wetter stratosphere will have less ozone.
(take that to the bank, as a rule)

For more technical info see this:

note: GISS science on the upper atmosphere chemistry is as good as it gets.
(Their HansonizedGavin-ized temp record…. not so much).

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 8:22 am

You include CFC destruction of ozone in that statement?. Then why have they never forecast the size and duration of the ozone hole even at a very late date of late July. They have had a.ost 40 years of data and experience.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 1:03 am

The temperature of Lower Stratosphere has been decreasing for 40 years now.
comment image

Implies lower ozone and/or lower UV. And more water vapor can get to the mesosphere via a wetter stratosphere.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 1:17 am

This does not affect the local temperature increase in the lower stratosphere.
comment image
Ionization in the lower stratosphere is not the same and depends on the geomagnetic field.

Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 8:31 am

You must also consider atmospheric intrusion from the troposphere to the arctic vortex for SSW events.

Reply to  Ozonebust
August 17, 2018 1:43 am

Winter waves in the stratosphere break the polar vortex.
comment image

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 8:25 am

And increased CO2 ?

Reply to  Ozonebust
August 17, 2018 1:31 am

Increased CO2 in the stratosphere is produced by secondary neutrons as a result of increased GCR.

Reply to  Ozonebust
August 17, 2018 1:34 am

Carbon-14 is produced in the upper layers of the troposphere and the stratosphere by thermal neutrons absorbed by nitrogen atoms. When cosmic rays enter the atmosphere, they undergo various transformations, including the production of neutrons. The resulting neutrons (1n) participate in the following reaction:

n + 14/7N→ 14/6C + p
The highest rate of carbon-14 production takes place at altitudes of 9 to 15 km (30,000 to 49,000 ft) and at high geomagnetic latitudes.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 9:48 am

“Implies lower ozone and/or lower UV”

Not at all. It is more likely to be due to more CO2. Increased GHG above the tropopause increases the total radiation to space and has a net cooling effect.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  tty
August 16, 2018 11:49 am

Water vapor is also a GHG.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 16, 2018 12:58 pm

The trend line is misleading. If you plot the trends starting at various times you find that there is a “knee” about 1994 where the trend drops to under -.1 K/decade. By 2005 the trend has dropped to essentially zero. So for over ten years there has been no appreciable cooling.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
August 17, 2018 6:14 am

By the way it looks like a decline up to about 1998 and “pause” since then. Is there any theory as to what is driving the temperature in the lower stratosphere, or are there any other observations that are well coorelated to the above?

K. Kilty
Reply to  Charles Nelson
August 16, 2018 7:29 am

Charles Nelson: No one seems to have answered your question. Temperature is measured according to the mean kinetic energy of the molecules residing there.

Reply to  K. Kilty
August 16, 2018 9:26 am

In the Thermosphere, you can freeze to death while surrounded by a 1500 degree plasma.
The reason why is your body is radiating heat faster than the plasma can replace it, due to how thin the plasma is.

August 16, 2018 12:26 am

Influence of geomagnetic activity on mesopause temperature over Yakutia
Galina Gavrilyeva and Petr Ammosov
Yu. G. Shafer Institute for Cosmophysical Research and Aeronomy SB RAS, 677098, Yakutsk, Russian Federation
Received: 13 Jun 2017 – Discussion started: 04 Oct 2017 – Revised: 29 Jan 2018 – Accepted: 31 Jan 2018 – Published: 08 Mar 2018
Abstract. The long-term temperature changes of the mesopause region at the hydroxyl molecule OH (6-2) nighttime height and its connection with the geomagnetic activity during the 23rd and beginning of the 24th solar cycles are presented. Measurements were conducted with an infrared digital spectrograph at the Maimaga station (63°N, 129.5°E). The hydroxyl rotational temperature (TOH) is assumed to be equal to the neutral atmosphere temperature at the altitude of ∼ 87km. The average temperatures obtained for the period 1999 to 2015 are considered. The season of observations starts at the beginning of August and lasts until the middle of May. The maximum of the seasonally averaged temperatures is delayed by 2 years relative to the maximum of the solar radio emission flux (wavelength of 10.7cm), and correlates with a change in geomagnetic activity (Ap index). Temperature grouping in accordance with the geomagnetic activity level showed that in years with high activity (Ap>8), the mesopause temperature from October to February is about 10K higher than in years with low activity (Ap<=8). Cross-correlation analysis showed no temporal shift between geomagnetic activity and temperature. The correlation coefficient is equal to 0.51 at the 95% level.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 5:33 am

So the Ruskies have the the Maimaga station (63°N, 129.5°E) and the USA has just the Maga.

August 16, 2018 12:39 am

Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the top of the atmosphere and wrap themselves around specks of meteor smoke. Mesospheric winds assemble the resulting ice crystals into NLCs. In 2017 a heat wave in the mesosphere melted those crystals, causing a brief “noctilucent blackout.” Could something similar, but opposite, be happening now? Perhaps a cold spell in the mesosphere is extending the season. Another possibility is the solar cycle. Previous studies have shown that NLCs sometimes intensify during solar minimum. Solar minimum conditions are in effect now as the sun has been without spots for 30 of the past 31 days.

Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 1:08 am

Nedoluha, G., R. M. Gomez, B. C. Hicks, J. E. Wrotny, C. Boone, and A. Lambert (2009), Water vapor measurements in the mesosphere from Mauna Loa over solar cycle 23, J. Geophys. Res., 114, D23303, doi:10.1029/2009JD012504.
The Water Vapor Millimeter-wave Spectrometer (WVMS) system has been making measurements from the Network for the Detection of Atmospheric Composition Change site at Mauna Loa, Hawaii (19.5°N, 204.4°E), since 1996, covering nearly the complete period of solar cycle 23. The WVMS measurements are compared with Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE) (1992–2005), Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS) (2004 to present), and Atmospheric Chemistry Experiment (ACE) Fourier transform spectrometer (2004 to present) measurements in the mesosphere. In the upper mesosphere Lyman a radiation photodissociates water vapor; hence, water vapor in the upper mesosphere varies with the solar cycle. We calculate fits to the WVMS and HALOE water vapor data in this region using the Lasp Interactive Solar Irradiance Datacenter Lyman a data set. This is, to our knowledge, the only published validation of the sensitivity of HALOE water vapor measurements to the solar cycle, and the HALOE and WVMS water vapor measurements show a very similar sensitivity to the solar cycle. Once the solar cycle variations are taken into account, the primary water vapor variations at all of these altitudes from 1992 to the present are an increase from 1992 to 1996, a maximum in water vapor in 1996, and small changes from 1997 to the present.

August 16, 2018 12:51 am

Water vapor escapes into the stratosphere also in winter. Ozone falls into the troposphere, and the water vapor rises to the stratosphere. This is a local phenomenon in areas where excess ozone accumulates.
comment image

Bob Weber
Reply to  ren
August 16, 2018 4:05 pm

Ozone is secondary to short-term TSI warming/cooling effects. The WV waves in arctic GPH are from TSI pulse driven tropical evaporation events:

comment image

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
August 16, 2018 1:41 am

I recollect that the thing that would have concerned those who thought we were imminently heading back into an Ice Age in the 70s was that “diamond dust” ice grains would start accumulating in the upper atmosphere increasing reflectivity and setting off catastrophic cooling. Still a more plausible threat -whether right or wrong – than anything conjured up by the CO2 is Satan brigade.

August 16, 2018 1:46 am

Did this launch help to amp-up the process ???

Parker Solar Probe
Parker Solar Probe is a NASA robotic spacecraft en route to probe the outer corona of the Sun. It will approach to within 8.86 solar radii from the “surface” of the Sun and will travel, at closest approach, as fast as 700,000 km/h. Wikipedia
Launch date: 12 August 2018
Manufacturer: Applied Physics Laboratory
Reference system: Heliocentric orbit
Operators: NASA, Applied Physics Laboratory
Did you know: In May 2017, the spacecraft was renamed Parker Solar Probe in honor of astrophysicist Eugene Parker.

Dr. Michael H. Stevens, the paper’s lead author and a research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, reports that exhaust from the shuttle and other launch vehicles may help explain how some of these mysterious clouds are formed. The paper appeared on Saturday (May 31) in Geophysical Research Letters.

Noctilucent clouds, sometimes called polar mesospheric clouds when observed from space, are too thin to be seen by the naked eye in broad daylight. However, they shine at night when the Sun’s rays hit them from below the horizon while the lower atmosphere is bathed in darkness. They typically form in the cold, summer polar mesosphere and are made of water ice particles.

Reply to  jmorpuss
August 16, 2018 1:58 am

The water vapor in the mesosphere forms ice crystals around the dust that remains after the meteoroids are burnt.

Reply to  jmorpuss
August 16, 2018 3:20 am

“Stevens and colleagues also include observations from a ground-based experiment in Norway measuring water vapor moving toward the Arctic Circle. These observations reveal the passage of a large plume of water vapor overhead a little over a day after the same (STS-85) shuttle launch, confirming the plume trajectory inferred from the MAHRSI measurements.

As the water vapor moves to the Arctic it falls from the warmer thermosphere down to colder areas in the mesosphere. Over the North Pole in the summer mesospheric temperatures can plummet below minus 220 Fahrenheit (minus 140 Celsius), the lowest found in the Earth’s atmosphere. At these temperatures, water vapor condenses into ice particles and clouds form.

“The amount of water found here is tiny compared to the amount in the lower atmosphere,” Stevens said. “But the long term effects in the upper atmosphere have yet to be studied.”

The Office of Naval Research and NASA’s Office of Space Science funded the study.”

Reply to  jmorpuss
August 16, 2018 9:28 am

Satellites and probes are being launched all the time. I don’t see how one more would make much difference.

August 16, 2018 2:05 am

This information is very important because it means that winter in medium latitudes can be drier.

Michael Carter
August 16, 2018 3:08 am

There has been an unusual upward blip in Arctic sea ice area trend over the last few weeks. Its too shorter period to mean too much yet, but worth watching I feel.


Reply to  Michael Carter
August 16, 2018 3:29 am

At present there has been a decrease in the volume of sea ice, but the temperature over the North Pole is dropping.

August 16, 2018 4:10 am

Reviews of Geophysics banner
Free Access
Powerful electromagnetic waves for active environmental research in geospace
T. B. Leyser A. Y. Wong
First published: 15 January 2009 Cited by: 12

8.4. Effects of Broadcast Transmitters
[70] Broadcast transmitters continuously heat the overhead ionosphere and modulate ionospheric currents. The first report of such anthropogenic effects was the Luxembourg effect (section 1) explained by the fact that the powerful wave is absorbed in the lower ionosphere, which heats the electron gas and hence increases the electron collision frequency [Bailey and Martyn, 1934]. When a different weaker wave then propagates through the heated region, the modulated collision frequency modulates the damping of the wave, so that the modulation on the powerful wave is transferred to the weaker wave. In addition to simply modulating the electron temperature in the quiet ionosphere, broadcast transmitters also modulate the auroral electrojet current. Such a modulated current then acts as a giant antenna that emits the demodulated signals [Turunen et al., 1980; Cannon, 1982]. ELF/VLF signals in the form of time pips at 1 kHz and snatches of music broadcasts were recorded in northern Scandinavia that had been produced by waves from powerful Russian LF and MF transmitters heating the lower ionosphere and thereby being demodulated.

Reply to  jmorpuss
August 16, 2018 8:04 am

Inverse square law is applicable to radio waves emanating from antennas. The energy intercepted by these atmospheric layers therefore will be *much* weaker at distance from the transmitting site than that experienced a few miles from such sites.Physics on this level is still applicable.

Reply to  jmorpuss
August 16, 2018 9:30 am

The atmosphere is pretty much transparent to the frequencies used by these transmitters.

Reply to  MarkW
August 16, 2018 2:04 pm

Troposphere, yes. Ionosphere, no.

August 16, 2018 4:23 am

Earth is a beautiful place. Clouds are probably one of the most overlooked aspects of earth’s many phenomenons. And the best part is the ever changing dynamics and energy levels contained within. Clouds can be eye candy or terror, kind of simple or awe inspiring, non-visible allowing you to burn and then flood you a couple of hours later, sprinkle life giving water across the land or dump five feet of snow and ice, shade you from the hot sun or blow your house away, provide pretty lightening flashes in the night time sky or fry you on your feet in a single moment, etc. They come in many different flavors from white to black, red, yellow, orange, blue or even rainbows. They can be flat or bumpy, rolling up or across, offer distant vista views or make it hard to see the ground in front of you. Clouds are really neat!

The technological age we live in allows pictures and views to be shared of their many forms from across the entire world! Sites like WUWT bring these to our attention and give insight to their complexity and try to explain it to those of us curious enough to want to know. The atmosphere without clouds would be a pretty boring place.

And the best part comes when you try to understand them! And even better is if or when you do!

Reply to  eyesonu
August 16, 2018 4:41 am

I should also note that the mother of all clouds is water! And the father’s contribution would likely be combustion. Hell, you could write a really big book about clouds.

Reply to  eyesonu
August 16, 2018 5:29 am


Yes. I am currently having a go at a book on clouds. The main problem I have is how to make it interesting for the average guy without glazing his/her eyes over with the technical bits, which for me are the source of great fascinating. Am now on my Mark 4 effort, with loads of scrap digits cluttering up my computer.
As a result I have concluded (to my satisfaction!) that so long as my kettle in the kitchen boils at 100C and stays at that; there is no possibility of a “Hothouse Earth”, in the absence of a major distaster leading to a change in gravity or the sun’s current behaviour etc. The Atmospheric Rankine Cycle explains that
The other thing is my observation that sea surface temperatures (SST) never seem to go much above 30C except in some specific areas. So far the explanation for this escapes me; but I am sure it has something to do with the rather odd thermodynamic behaviour of water indicated by the clouds.
Any ideas, anyone?

Reply to  Alasdair
August 16, 2018 8:49 am

Willis E Produced some very interesting charts and observations on WUWT not too long ago regarding water vapor release temps. Do a search. His charts would look great in your book.

August 16, 2018 4:41 am

Factors governing the strength and frequency of stratospheric ozone intrusions over the Pacific‐North American region are considered for their role in modulating tropospheric ozone on interannual timescales. The strength of the association between two major modes of climate variability—the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Northern Annular Mode (NAM)—and the amount of ozone contained in stratospheric intrusions are tested in the context of two mechanisms that modulate stratosphere‐to‐troposphere transport (STT) of ozone: (StratVarO3) the winter season buildup of ozone abundances in the lowermost stratosphere (LMS) and (JetVar) Pacific jet and wave breaking variability during spring. In essence, StratVarO3 corresponds to variability in the amount of ozone per intrusion, while JetVar governs the frequency of intrusions. The resulting analysis, based on two different reanalysis products, suggests that StratVarO3 is more important than JetVar for driving interannual variations in STT of ozone over the Pacific‐North American region. In particular, the abundance of ozone in the LMS at the end of winter is shown to be a robust indicator of the amount of ozone that will be contained in stratospheric intrusions during the ensuing spring. Additionally, it is shown that the overall strength of the winter season stratospheric NAM is a useful predictor of ozone intrusion strength. The results also suggest a nuanced relationship between the phase of ENSO and STT of ozone. While ENSO‐related jet variability is associated with STT variability, it is wave breaking frequency rather than typical ENSO teleconnection patterns that is responsible for the ENSO‐STT relationship.

Geoff Sherrington
August 16, 2018 5:14 am

Here is a pedant in full flight, re Anthony’s comment “The mesosphere is a layer of the atmosphere so high that it almost touches space”
Logically, everything almost touches space. If it touched space, it would no longer be space.
Cheers Anthony Geoff.

August 16, 2018 6:20 am

man that is a beautiful sight. sadly not seeing much here in maine, sunsets been pretty good but nothing light that.

August 16, 2018 6:56 am

Could that extra water vapor have an impact on climate?

Marc Mueller
August 16, 2018 8:31 am

Cosmic ray activity has been increasing due to the weakened solar wind. Coincidence?

August 16, 2018 9:55 am

Or it could have a very simple explanation. This summer has been exceptionally warm and dry in northern Europe. Skies have been exceptionally clear (normally July and August are the wettest months). A completely clear night sky like in the photo from Estonia is normally decidedly uncommon at this time of year.

So noctilucent clouds have been unusually easy to see this year.

Reply to  tty
August 16, 2018 3:25 pm

Ya mighta just nailed it ??

August 20, 2018 11:24 am

The western United States have lately had an exceptional number of forest fires by recent standards, the main products of which are hot and heavy CO2 and hot and light H2O. Some of that water vapor might find its way to the mesosphere. –AGF

August 20, 2018 3:14 pm

Well it had to happen. The answer was Climate Change all along. I can’t believe I didn’t realise this immediately. Thank goodness Federal appropriations are being put to good use .

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