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Mysterious, glowing clouds previously seen almost exclusively in Earth’s polar regions have appeared in the skies over the United States and Europe over the past several days.
“That’s a real concern and question,” said James Russell, an atmospheric scientist at Hampton University and the principal investigator of an ongoing NASA satellite mission to study the clouds. “Why are they getting more numerous? Why are they getting brighter? Why are they appearing at lower latitudes?”
Originally posted by ANNED
Do you notice how they immediately try to link these clouds to global warming even with out ANY evidence that global warming has anything to do with them.
The clouds might be beautiful, but they could portend global changes caused by global warming.
Nobody knows for sure, but most of the answers seem to point to human-caused global atmospheric change.
When noctilucent clouds first appeared in the late 19th century, they were confined to latitudes above 50o N (usually far above). The latitude of last night's Colorado sighting is only 39° N. No one knows why NLCs are expanding their range; it's one of many unanswered questions about the mysterious clouds.
Right now, during the northern hemisphere’s summer, the atmosphere is heating up and expanding. At the outside edge of the atmosphere, that actually means that it’s getting colder because it’s pushed farther out into space.
From 20 to about 50 kilometers is the stratosphere. In this region the air actually warms with height! Ozone is concentrated in this part of the atmosphere and it absorbs ultraviolet light from the Sun. More light is absorbed at higher altitudes compared to the lower stratosphere, so the temperature increases.
But at 50 kilometers, the temperature levels out again in a region called the stratopause. At about 55 km, the mesosphere begins. In the mesosphere, the temperature decreases with height again, because there is very little ozone to warm up the air. Like the troposphere, the mesosphere is well mixed because the warmer air below is always rising.
Finally, the mesopause divides the mesosphere from the thermosphere, which is the section of the atmosphere higher than 90 km. In this region, the temperature increases again! This time, it is molecular oxygen (O2) that causes the temperature increase. The oxygen absorbs light from the Sun, and since there is very little air in the thermosphere, just a little absorption can go a long way!
Originally posted by Avenginggecko
reply to post by Dorfl
Interesting theory! And if you believe in Lovelock's Gaia Theory of the Earth (Earth is basically a macro-organism that has systems that react like something that is alive), perhaps the Earth is warming and due to that warming one of its cooling systems is activating to bring the temperature down.