To the casual observer, they may simply be a curiosity, dismissed as the waning light of the midnight sun. But to scientists, these noctilucent ice clouds could be an upper-atmospheric symptom of a changing climate.
“The question which everyone in Alaska is dealing with is what are the symptoms of climate change and, as in medicine, how do these symptoms reflect the underlying processes,” said Richard Collins, a researcher at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “It is believed that [these clouds] are an indicator of climate change.”
Dozens of scientists from several countries will gather at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Aug. 20-23 to discuss the latest findings on noctilucent clouds and other phenomena of the earth’s upper atmosphere during the Eighth International Workshop on Layered Phenomena in the Mesopause Region. Sessions will include information on the latest ground-based and satellite data on the mesopause region, an area of the atmosphere 50 miles above Earth’s surface and the site of the coldest atmospheric temperatures.
Noctilucent clouds form under conditions that counter common logic. They only form in the summer, when solar radiation is most intense, Collins said. That solar heating, rather than warming the mesopause, causes cooling, he said. “The mesopause region is colder in summer under perpetual daylight than it is in winter under perpetual darkness.”
The reason lies in the movement of air within the atmosphere, Collins said. Solar radiation heats the lower atmosphere, causing a rising cell of air over the summer pole, he said. “As the air rises it cools and that beats out the radiative heating.” Those cold temperatures allow the ice clouds to form in the mesopause. The clouds could serve as an indicator of climate change because an increase in carbon dioxide, which causes heating in the lower atmosphere, causes cooling in the upper atmosphere.
Collins said the noctilucent clouds are a relatively new phenomenon. History indicates that humans first recorded their presence in the 19th century, he said. Satellite and ground-based data has been limited, he said, but it appears that the clouds have become more prevalent over time. A new satellite, Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere, or AIM, was launched in April 2007 to observe clouds and their environment in the mesopause, Collins said scientists are looking forward to having more reliable data, which could contribute to a broader understanding of the upper atmosphere, noctilucent clouds and how both fit into the climate system.
CONTACT: Richard Collins, associate professor of atmospheric science, at (907) 474-7607 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at (907) 474-7902 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Marmian Grimes | EurekAlert!
Receding glaciers in Bolivia leave communities at risk
20.10.2016 | European Geosciences Union
UM researchers study vast carbon residue of ocean life
19.10.2016 | University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences