RARE ANTARCTIC SUMMER CLOUDS

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RARE ANTARCTIC SUMMER CLOUDS

 user 2006-08-03 at 12:05:00 pm Views: 62
  • #16299

    Extreme Conditions Create Rare Antarctic Clouds
    SYDNEY
    (Aug. 08) – Rare, mother-of-pearl colored clouds caused by extreme
    weather conditions above Antarctica are a possible indication of global
    warming, Australian scientists said on Tuesday.Known as nacreous
    clouds, the spectacular formations showing delicate wisps of colors
    were photographed in the sky over an Australian meteorological base at
    Mawson Station on July 25.Australian Antarctic Division scientist
    Andrew Klekociuk said such clouds are occasionally produced by air
    rising over Arctic and Antarctic mountains in high polar latitudes
    during winter.”You have to be in the right part of the world in winter,
    and have the sun just below your horizon to see them,” he said.Nacreous
    clouds can only form in temperatures lower than minus 112
    Fahrenheit.Meteorologist Renae Baker said a weather balloon in the
    vicinity of the clouds in the stratosphere about 12 miles above the
    Earth’s surface measured temperatures as low as minus 124.6 F.”That’s
    about as cold as the lowest temperatures ever recorded on the surface
    of the Earth,” Baker, who photographed the clouds, said in a
    statement.Klekociuk said the rarely seen clouds, also known as polar
    stratospheric clouds, were more than just a curiosity.”They reveal
    extreme conditions in the atmosphere, and promote chemical changes that
    lead to destruction of vital stratospheric ozone,” he said.Klekociuk
    said temperatures in the stratosphere, between 5 and 31 miles above
    Earth, would be expected to drop as global warming increases. Data
    collected over the past 25 years had reflected this, he told Australian
    Broadcasting Corp. radio.”Over that time there has been a small
    decrease in temperature and that change is actually occurring faster
    than the warming at the surface of the Earth,” he said.The delicate
    cloud colors are created at sunset when fading light passes through
    tiny water-ice crystals blown along on strong jets of stratospheric
    air.She said winds at the same height were measured blowing at almost
    143 mph.