Noctilucent Сlouds: Phenomenon Description and Theories

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Noctilucent Clouds and Why Are They Appearing in the Sky

Noctilucent clouds are a beautiful and still unexplored natural phenomenon. It consists in the appearance of clouds of a special shape and silver color high in the sky. It is possible to observe these clouds at night and at the predawn hour, in summer and in middle and high latitudes.

Description of the Phenomenon

Noctilucent clouds have a diverse structure, based on which they are classified according to these characteristics into several types:

  • Fleur is the most primitive form, characterized by a diffuse structure and a dull whitish glow.
  • Clouds-stripes are lined up in small parallel or intertwining lines that resemble jets. There are sharply delineated or blurred.
  • Wavelike noctilucent clouds are visually very similar to the water surface distorted by small ripples.
  • Vortex-like clouds look like twisted ring-shaped turbulence with a dark central part. According to the radius and complexity of the structure, 3 subgroups are distinguished, the latter of which includes the rarest phenomenon — clouds resembling luminous matter scattering from an explosion.

Today, silver clouds are unique and one-of-a-kind formations that carry important information for science about the processes taking place in the mesopause. Studies of this phenomenon are carried out using rocket, laser and radar sounding methods. These methods make it possible to obtain all the new information about the wave atmospheric movements, altitude winds and the processes affecting their temporal changes. Due to the geographical features of this phenomenon, noctilucent clouds are mainly studied in Northern Europe, Russia, and Canada.

Theories of Occurrence

  1. One of the theories is associated with the eruption of the volcano Krakatoa in 1883. Scientists came to this conclusion because this phenomenon was not observed earlier this date. After the eruption of the volcano, tons of volcanic dust and water vapor were released into the atmosphere, which could potentially lead to the formation of silver clouds.
  1. Other researchers believe that this phenomenon is due to man-made activity. The formation of clouds requires three factors. These are water, dust particles that will condense water, and low temperature. Atmospheric pollution and global warming provide two of these conditions. The concentration of water in the atmosphere increases with intensive animal husbandry and burning solid fuels, which emit methane: sunlight decomposes methane with the release of hydrogen, which subsequently reacts with oxygen and forms water.

In any case, scientists have not yet come to the common opinion, and noctilucent clouds remain a rare phenomenon. And in order to be aware of the weather conditions foreshadowing their occurrence, we recommend using weather API on your website and track all the upcoming nature circumstances.

Tags: weather, forecast, API, noctilucent clouds, air, atmosphere, theory, science, volcano, climate

Pictures used in post taken from: Unsplash, PexelsLicense: For copying and reprinting of materials the references to the website are obligatory.


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