Earth  ID: 11601

The Cloud Connection

When a brutal cold fell over much of eastern North America this winter, scientists linked the record low temperatures to unusual wind cycles in the Arctic stratosphere, roughly five to 10 miles above the surface. But data from NASA’s AIM satellite revealed these anomalous winds were also tied to an event at the opposite pole—the disappearance of noctilucent clouds. Noctilucent, or “night shining,” clouds are visible right after sunset or just before sunrise. They exist near the edge of space, 50 miles above the ground, mainly at high latitudes. About two weeks after temperatures plummeted in the Northern Hemisphere, these delicate, electric-blue clouds mysteriously began vanishing from the sky over Antarctica. Now scientists believe they’ve found the reason why. The answer lies in a hidden connection that spans half the globe and influences multiple layers of Earth’s atmosphere. Watch the video to learn more.

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Story Credits

Lead Writer:
Matt Davenport (USRA)

Please give credit for this item to:
Science@NASA and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Cover image courtesy of John Boardman
Cloud images courtesy of NASA/HU/VT/CU LASP

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