Mesosphere Sunday

WHAT’S UP IN THE MESOSPHERE? Last month, people around the world who had never heard of noctilucent clouds (NLCs) suddenly found themselves seeing NLCs on a regular basis. The electric-blue clouds rippled to record low latitudes, with sightings as far south as New Mexico and southern California. As July unfolds, however, the clouds have subsided.

What’s happening up there? Lynn Harvey of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado has taken a look at NASA satellite data, and here are her findings:

“At mid-latitudes, the mesosphere remains quite wet, but temperatures have been rising this month,” says Harvey. “The rising temperatures could be suppressing the formation of NLCs.”

Noctilucent clouds form when summertime wisps of water vapor rise to the edge of space, frosting specks of meteor smoke. When sunlight hits those tiny ice crystals, they glow electric-blue. Moisture boosts NLCs, but warmth destroys them. The recent uptick in temperature may be responsible for their retreat.

Although fewer people are seeing NLCs as July unfolds, the season is not over. NASA’s AIM satellite continues to see a bright ring of electric-blue circling Earth’s north pole, and only two days ago Bertrand Kulik witnessed a display of NLCs over Paris, France:

“Noctilucent clouds were visible over the Eiffel tower around 4 o’clock in the morning on July 10th,” says Kulik. “It was not a strong display, but still very nice.”

The northern summer season for noctilucent clouds typically continues through mid-August. Observing tips: Look west 30 to 60 minutes after sunset (or before sunrise) when the sun is just below the horizon. If you see luminous blue-white tendrils spreading across the sky, you may have spotted a noctilucent cloud.


About Den

Always in search of interesting things to post. Armed with knowledge and dangerous with the ladies.
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7 Responses to Mesosphere Sunday

  1. Micki says:

    Quite a coincidence! 42 years later to the day…


  2. Carol says:

    Pete studied the show problem yesterday, did some googling, seems what I needed for the faucet in the shower was a new part. A cartridge thing. They had my brand and part at Home Depot, he picked it up today and voila, I have a shower again! What would I do w/o my son!!! He’s is such a help to me, and he’s free although I paid for the part.

    Such a busy week coming up for me. I prefer my weeks with nothing on the calendar.

    Tuesday is Book Club, almost done withe book, “A Gentleman in Moscow.”
    Thursday driving up M-52 to Williamston to visit some old friends.
    Friday to the Leonid and Friends concert in Warren, a suburb of Detroit.
    Saturday my daughter’s wedding

    Hopefully, when my Prednisone runs out my tongue doesn’t act up.


  3. David B. Benson says:

    A fetchling robin on the trail, maybe too young to fly. Looked bedraggled so maybe not well fed. A long 33 minutes to the Old Post Office.


  4. Den says:

    Another Ikea treadmill goes bad:


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