Good post, OZ. I'm one of the fence-sitters. I've actually done a bit of research on this supposed phenomenon. I am also a weather-weenie,
although not even close to the arena of knowledge you posess.
This is what makes me wonder, and granted, it is anecdotal, and therefore suspect; I would expect the same standard put toward my story as any other
unsupported story, and this IS unsupported.
Here goes: For the last three years, I've been pursuing the green flash. For those that aren't familiar with this atmospheric experience, or
think it's a legend told to tourists -- the green flash is most often an inferior mirage, and requires a surface (the sea, for instance) that is
warmer than the ambient air. It also generally requires some elevation above the horizon to see and photograph. Immediately after the sun goes
down (or just before the sun comes up) , the light rays are refracted and, defract through the atmosphere, producing the view of a flash of green or
blue. There are a myriad of related phenomena.
Okay, bear with me here, OZ. I've captured about 20 green flashes, all after sunset. Exceptional ones have been less than six. I figured that
worst case was, after a couple of years, I'd have thousands of beautiful tropical sunsets captured, and I do. I am RICH with sunset photos. There
is NO such thing as a bad sunset......... until recently.
Here's where the speculation comes in. So, a few months ago, I am on top of the bluff, taking pictures of newborn Booby birds. I look overhead
and see several crosses of contrails. Now this is unusual for our experience. We're a teensy island, with less than 1500 souls here. True, we
have airports and jets, and contrails are not unusual, just the curious crossing. Generally, the contrails go in the direction of the planes --
toward the big island 85 miles to our NW. So, I take photos of the contrails, just becuase they are unusual.
The following week, we began experiencing something I don't recall, at least for the past 2 years. Prior to that I cannot truthfully say, as I
wasn't as aware of sunsets as I am now. What changed, is that now there is an everpresent haze........ the sun sets into it, and I cannot see the
moment it crosses the horizon...... it just fades to zilch.
We have no industry here, although nearly everyone has an automobile. I've been looking at the Saharan dust layer, looking for plumes of
particulate from volcanic action, even considered the Florida fires. I can't figure it out. Now, I realize I'm trying to attach a causitive action
toward a possibly unrelated observation. Still, I can shake this whackamole notion.
Two weeks ago, we had a weak wave pass through here (before that was a tropical storm that was somewhat close)>..... and that wave cleared the air.
For the first time in months, the "seeing" at night was good, and the known celestial objects and known satellites were again very bright. Shortly
thereafter, the dreaded crossed and double-crossed contrails. Thereafter, the "seeing" is fuzzy, and this is a place that has almost no light
pollution -- look at us on the night view of GoogleEarth...... we don't even cause a dim glow.
Listen, I know how this sounds. My background is in chemistry, with a minor in math and physics. I believe in empirical evidence..... that's why I
feel like such a wingnut telling you all this.
So here I am, no more sundown pictures, at least until a hurricane passes by or over. The most colorful sundowns are often immediately after a
tropical cyclone. Currently, the haze is back. I think to myself:
is this (a) a global phenomenon?
(b) a Caribbean factor, related to some variable I am unfamiliar with?
(c) something I can figure out if I spend enought time on CIMSS?
(d) something I should just chock up to long-term Rayleigh or Mie scattering and say to hell with it, no green flash for you???
I'm stumped, and feel like a fool for laying this all out.
Anyway, that's my subjective story. I think I have a sense of you OZ, and I don't think you'll dismiss this with a one-line post, but I truly
want to know what you think. There's probably nowhere else here I'd post this story. I hardly believe it myself, but I do. If only I hadn't
spend the last few years taking sunset photos, I could talk myself into a "seasonal" thang.
Sorry to be so verbose, but you asked.