back to article NASA snaps mysterious night-shining clouds

A NASA satellite has captured its first images of noctilucent clouds, brightly lit night-time clouds that form high in Earth's atmosphere during each hemisphere's summer. The night-shining clouds form between May and September in the northern hemisphere. Very little is known about how they form, or why they are appearing more …


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  1. Tim Parker

    Links ? (..again..)

    Nice story but - forchrisakes - can we PLEASE HAVE SOME LINKS !! Sheesh, it's not like it's the first time this has been mentioned, and neither is it a bleeding edge concept...


  2. Torcuill Torrance

    Much prettier pictures

    Photos taken by my mate Phil Hart, whilst he was in the UK.

    Aberdeen (and in fact any place along 57N) is actually at a sweet spot for NLC's and the Aberdeen Astronomical Society is currently observing to assist ongoing research. Any visitor to Aberdeen will soon become familiar with why it is such a hotbed of cloud research.

    Clear Dark and Steady Skies


  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Wait a minute

    The AIM satellite was launched end of April of this year, and I'm being told that changes in PMCs could be "an early warning that our environment is being altered". Well gosh, I wonder if that would have anything to do spring going to summer ?

    Why is it that I feel an undercurrent of Global Warming threat in that sentence ? Isn't it a bit quick to conclude anything from a project that has been running all of two months ? If two months observation were all that was needed to explain weather patterns, then we'd have Global Warming down pat and the weatherman would be 100% accurate all the time.

    A bit more seriousness from a scientist is expected. Either that, or the hack needs to ensure that the scientists' words were correctly transcribed and explained.

    Either way, something is wrong in this article.

  4. oxo

    Something wrong here

    The date on that picture is 11 June, and it is the north pole. So how come it is dark? Has the earth tipped over on it's axis while we were looking the other way?

  5. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Title appears to be fairly close to the horse's mouth and also makes the global warming connection. Let us be charitable and assume that those who study such things have a long history of Earth-based observations that show changes, and that this satellite merely provides a better view and over the next two years might actually show what's going on. They merely failed to notice that omitting this background information from their press release makes them look brainless. Whoops.

  6. Murray Pearson

    Maybe Pascal hasn't noticed...

    ....but if it was a regular seasonal change, wouldn't it happen *every* year?

    Or are there more springs and summers happening now in the shiny new 21st Century?

    No, there's no need to panic, until the Sahara desert reaches Norway.........

  7. Wade Burchette

    How is this related to global warming?

    You cannot throw a rock without hitting a scientists who makes an absurd claim that something is related to climate change, even though they have no shred of evidence whatsoever. Case in point, NASA says these clouds, which they just observed, are possible evidence of climate change. How do you know? Do you have years upon years of data to draw on? No. In reality it seems that scientists, especially scientists with no weather backgrounds at all, are getting desperate to try to make a connection between humans and global warming. Probably because many facts are coming out that global warming is natural.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: How is this related to global warming?

    There may be some connection there, but it certainly wasn't justified in the article. Whether there is actually a connection or not is beside the point anyways. The article is symptomatic of two separate problems: the tendency of the press to make claims like this without any supporting evidence, and the tendency of scientists to grasp at straws to make connections between their research and climate change (to get a bigger piece of the grant pie of course).

  9. Chris

    Don't forget..

    ..If you say something is linked to Global Warming they throw Money at you, don't say it is and they don't.

  10. Steven Knox


    A paranoid cynic* might assume that El Reg is trying to control us by controlling our access to information. I'm not a paranoid cynic**, so I'll assume that Ms. Sherriff simply forgot to include the following link:

    I myself had to dig through 1 link buried well below at least two other articles on NASA's home page to find this information. Clearly a cover-up.

    * or anyone credulous enough to believe the tongue-in-cheek bluster of their editorial staff

    ** or I am, but I've already been compromised. If this comment doesn't get posted, you know which it is...

  11. Andy Bright

    Am I the only person here that can read?

    Sorry, but the point of the article was that the shiny clouds are appearing more frequently than usual and at a lower altitude than normal.

    The was a vague reference to this might have something to do with climate change, but the general theme was "we don't know why this is happening more often than before, perhaps it's global warming, but that's just a guess".

    So before people start ranting that this has nothing to do with global warming, no one has said that it does - they've only said it might be.

    Personally if we're all about to go down in a fiery Sahara of our own making, I was thinking that at least on the bright side we've made some pretty shiny clouds while we're about it.

    A more substantial indicator to global warming would be the unusually large amounts of flooding and high winds northern Europe is experiencing ever more frequently as the years pass. Drought, floods, drought, floods - pretty much the theme of modern English summers these days.. and all good fun if you're into the end of the world.

    Remember global warming is not just about getting decent tans in the our new National Deserts, it's also about having some serious fun windsurfing down your street.

  12. Mike

    End of the World

    Ah, that explains the near-perfect Left/Right <-> Believe/Deny correlation on global warming. Like the Christian Fundies currently working to hasten the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, so they can get on with their own Armageddon and the Rapture, denial and "alternate explanations" for human-aided climate change grease the skids for other valuable Signs. The Left, of course, don't really care as long as their air-conditioners work, but stalling the party for Fundies is just part of the game. :-)

  13. oxo

    Well duuH

    So the flood plains are getting flooded are they?

    Well consider how they became flood plains, and then figure out if this occurred in the last century, or the last millenia.

    Global warming - well yes of course. It's a natural phenomenon.

    Caused by us? I don't think so..

  14. Michael Corkery


    we're lucky to have so many climate experts here to explain why it definately is or isn't global warming.

    How about you read up before commenting? It is suggested that the known growth in appearances of noctolucent clouds MIGHT be related to global warming, given that the area of study is polar, where gasses are being released by the retreating ice shelves. Whether it's cyclical (and natural) or manmade irreversible change is not stated, so thanks all of you for putting in more oars than a viking longship.

    Interestingly, there appears to be a correlated rise in noctolucent clouds following shuttle launches and re-entries, as recently noted on El Reg. I don't know how long this lasts, as Atlantis is safely home a while now.

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