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Data from NASA's AIM spacecraft show that noctilucent clouds are like a great “geophysical light bulb.”
They turn on every year in late spring, reaching almost full intensity over a period of no more than 5 to 10 days.
News flash: The bulb is glowing.
As December unfolds, a vast bank of noctilucent clouds is blanketing Antarctica. It started on Nov. 20th as a tiny puff of electric-blue and quickly expanded to overlie nearly the entire continent.
AIM is monitoring the progress of the clouds as they swirl and ripple around the south pole.
One of the greenhouse gases that has become more abundant in Earth's atmosphere since the 19th century is methane.
“When methane makes its way into the upper atmosphere, it is oxidized by a complex series of reactions to form water vapor,” explained Hampton University Professor James Russell, the principal investigator of AIM. “This extra water vapor is then available to grow ice crystals for NLCs.”
If this idea, one of several, is correct, noctilucent clouds are a sort of “canary in a coal mine” for one of the most important greenhouse gases. And that, says Russell, is a great reason to study them.
An eerie cloud that glowed briefly in the night sky Saturday was no UFO. It was created by humans - more specifically a NASA rocket built to make clouds that shine at night. The rocket launched as part of an experiment to artificially create so-called noctilucent - or night-shining - clouds, the highest clouds on Earth. They naturally appear around 50 miles (80 km) above Earth?s high latitudes and are also known as polar mesospheric clouds.
reply to post by AutumnWitch657
The article says they are seeded by disintegrating meteoroids. The sun shines on tiny ice crystals and creates the electric-blue clouds. So, I'm no scientist, but maybe the vapor from the methane is what allows the meteor dust to turn to ice crystals.
NLC formation requires a combination of very low temperatures, a source of water vapour, and nuclei on which ice can grow.
Water Vapour The water vapour source is not known with certainty. The mesosphere is extremely dry but some water might be carried and across gaps in the tropopause and lofted upwards by atmospheric gravity waves. Another potential source is methane. This reacts in the stratosphere with hydroxyl radicals, OH, to form water molecules. Rocket exhausts deposit water into the mesosphere and some have been associated with specific later cloud formation but this is not considered a major effect.
NLCs displays are thought to be becoming more frequent, brighter and visible at lower latitudes. Human activities might be contributing. The summer mesopause is getting colder, possibly because of the cooling effect of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. Methane concentrations and mesosphere humidity are also increasing.
reply to post by Wrabbit2000
Thanks for putting up the video, Wrabbit.
They are very new phenomena. There was NO records of them before the Krakatoa eruption in 1883. after the eruption noctilucent cloud were reported when people were looking for beautiful sunsets. So its unclear were the NLCs caused by eruption, or just more people looked for the skies. There was theories that they were caused by volcanic ash, but as years passed and the ash disappeared from atmosphere, the clouds remained.
On top of the geo-engeneering experiments that irresponsable so-called scientists do, I remember hearing about how metane is expulsed from ponds under the artic ice and how it would eventually create problems...
Well, here is one right now...I find the idea of these clouds eerie especially if they start expanding.edit on 26-12-2013 by theMediator because: (no reason given)
IMO there is an abundance of moisture in all layers of the atmosphere right now, hence, all these torrential rains and heavy snow accumulations.
Observed seasonal to decadal-scale responses in mesospheric water vapor
Observations of increasing lower stratospheric H2O trends up to 2001, followed by decreasing trends thereafter, strongly suggest that 14 years is much too short a time for an analysis of its trends.
The findings herein from the HALOE dataset also support that contention for the mesosphere. As Garcia et al.  argued, one may need 30-40 years of data before one can estimate a true secular trend in water vapor for the middle atmosphere.
Decreases in stratospheric water vapor after 2001.
Time series of stratospheric water vapor measurements by satellites and balloons show persistent low values beginning in 2001. Temperature observations show that the tropical tropopause has been anomalously cold during this period, and the observed water vapor changes (approximately 0.4 ppmv) are consistent with the temperature decreases (approximately 1 K).
Water vapor measurements in the mesosphere from Mauna Loa over solar cycle 23
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.
Weather and Climate Analyses Using Improved Global Water Vapor Observations
The NASA Water Vapor Project (NVAP) dataset is a global (land and ocean) water vapor dataset created by merging multiple sources of atmospheric water vapor to form a global data base of total and layered precipitable water vapor. Under the NASA Making Earth Science Data Records for Research Environments (MEaSUREs) program, NVAP is being reprocessed and extended, increasing its 14-year coverage to include 22 years of data.
Decadal and inter hemispheric variability in polar mesospheric clouds, water vapor, and temperature
HALOE indicates decadal cycles in temperature, water vapor, and PMCs that are correlated with the 11-year solar cycle.
During solar cycle 23, variations in temperature and water vapor were nearly identical in the north and south. Temperatures varied by roughly 5 K at 85 km to 1 K at 30 km, with colder temperatures during solar minimum. Water vapor varied by roughly 30% at 85 km to less than 1% at 30 km, with more water vapor during solar minimum.
Solar cycle variations in PMC extinction were roughly 23% in both the south and north, with brighter PMCs occurring during solar minimum. The overall picture given by HALOE is consistent with expectations, where a cooler and wetter mesosphere during solar minimum corresponds to brighter PMCs.