Satellite witness to first signs of climate change?

July 8, 2007 at 8:00 am 1 comment

NatGeo imageThis post is especially for the person who keeps emailing me to say that climate change is a nonsense and that I’ve been sucked in by the rhetoric. Well, neither you nor I are climate change scientists, so it’s best to leave the discussion to those who have more expert knowledge. But when NASA has news that its Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesophere (AIM) satellite has taken the first shots of glowing clouds that scientists believe could be linked to climate change, perhaps we should both check it out.

New Scientist tells us that the AIM was launched in April 2007 on a specific mission – to investigate ‘night-shining’ polar clouds or noctilucent clouds. These glowing clouds are thin, wispy clouds that glow an electric blue colour. They hover 80 kilometres or so above the ground (in the mesophere) and are made of tiny ice crystals. Some scientists think the clouds are chock full of space dust, but a growing majority suspect that they are an early and telltale sign of global warming. They can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere, over the Arctic region, during summer, from mid-May to end of August, and have been glowing brighter in recent years. The AIM will observe two complete cloud seasons and will watch for shiny clouds in the Southern Hemisphere. The clouds form in high altitudes and then move to lower latitudes.

Why are they linked to global warming? “It is clear that these clouds are changing, a sign that a part of our atmosphere is changing and we do not understand how, why or what it means,” says atmospheric scientist, James Russell III, of Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia. “These observations suggest a connection with global change in the lower atmosphere and could represent an early warning that our Earth environment is being changed,” he said.

The photo accompanying this post is ‘night clouds’ illuminating the sky over Budapest, Hungary on June 15, 2007. Photo credit: National Geographic. Reminds me of the beauty of the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis – but with far dire consequences for humanity should the scientists be right about the clouds being an early signal of global warming. Photo credit: Wikipedia.Wikipedia image

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Entry filed under: Climate Change, NASA.

Plummeting to the depths Threat to global stability?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Buğra  |  July 8, 2007 at 11:36 am

    It’s not too late. We should do our best to save our world.

    Reply

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