Night-shining clouds over South Pole appear earlier than usual

Night-shining clouds over South Pole appear earlier than usual

The so-called night-shining clouds over the South Pole have this year made their annual appearance earlier than usual, and scientists believe that greenhouse gases might be the culprit.

Known to scientists as noctilucent, the night-shining clouds are glowing mass of clouds that form over the South Pole as ice crystals get trapped between Earth and the space. These clouds look wispy and shimmery the ice crystals from the ground, and like an electric-blue gossamer haze when seen from the space.

Usually, these clouds start showing up in late November or early December. But images captured by NASA satellites showed that this year these clouds showed up earlier than usual -- between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28.

As Noctilucent clouds were first seen in 1885, they are relatively a new phenomenon. But, they have intensified and spread in the past few years.

A NASA post explained, “In recent years [noctilucent clouds] have intensified and spread. When noctilucent clouds first appeared in the 19th Century, you had to travel to Polar Regions to see them." Since the turn of the century, however, they have been sighted as close to the equator as Colorado and Utah.”

Nowadays, these peculiar clouds come from space itself, as they are seeded by fine debris created by disintegrating meteors. Each day tiny bits of fine debris from disintegrating meteors enter the upper boundaries of Earth’s atmosphere, and help create the so-called noctilucent clouds by allowing moisture to gather around dust particles.


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