(ORDO NEWS) — It becomes cold in the mesosphere. Very cold.
“In the polar latitudes (60N-80N), temperature has broken 14-year records in the past few days,” says Lynn Harvey of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, University of Colorado. This development has led silver clouds (NLCs) to emerge from the Arctic to mid-latitudes.
“I waited for years to see the NLCs, and finally it happened!” Reports Phil Halpert from London, England, June 7. He spotted their electric blue ripples on the local rooftops, and then rushed to photograph them in the open sky above Clissold Park.
– This is the first time I see silver clouds over London! he says.
NLCs are the highest clouds of the Earth. Sown by meteoroids, they hover at the edge of outer space 83 km above the ground. Clouds form when shreds of water vapor rise into the mesosphere in summer, allowing water to crystallize around spots of meteor smoke. Usually they are best seen after the summer solstice, but this year they appeared very early.
The temperature drops sharply. In fact, mid-latitude (35N-55N) temperatures at the end of May (DOY 142-148) were the coldest since the beginning of observations – since 2007, when NASA’s AIM spacecraft began monitoring silver clouds.
Last summer, NLCs spread south to Los Angeles and Las Vegas, setting records for observation at low latitudes.
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