The strange clouds that shine in the night sky are becoming easier to see, and it could be due to all the methane we are pumping into the atmosphere, according to a recent study.
The bad news is that methane is a greenhouse gas that is contributing to global warming. But the good news is that more methane means that more of us will have the opportunity to see these dazzling clouds, nocturnal or nocturnal, according to the study, which was published this week in the journal Letters of Geophysical Research .
Noctilucent clouds form around the poles in the summer months, when the ice crystallizes around fragments of disintegrating meteoroids, volcanic dust and even rocket columns 50 miles above the surface, according to NASA. Here on the ground, we can see these clouds when the sun dips below the horizon and illuminates them. The first time people reported noticing noctilucent clouds was in 1880 after the massive eruption of Krakatau, a volcano in Indonesia. At that time, noctilucent clouds were discovered perhaps a handful of times a century; Now, it is possible to see one or more noctilucent clouds every season, says the study.
It's likely because they become brighter. And the new computer simulations suggest that this is due to the increase of methane levels in greenhouse gases. Over time, methane in the atmosphere is broken down into carbon dioxide and water. That water vapor is responsible for the bright noctilucent clouds, says the new study. More water vapor feeds more growth of ice crystals, which means brighter clouds.
Concerning the consolation prizes for the nightmare of climate change, these clouds are quite impressive.
And, of course, NASA has taken some shots from space.
The most enchanting rodeo of noctilucent clouds, however, is this 2007 NASA montage set in a song about them:
If you want to get a good picture of yourself, you apply all the resources of night photography, says Verge photographer Amelia Krales. First, you have to get to the right place: you have the best chance to observe noctilucent clouds at a glance in latitudes from 55 degrees north to 61 degrees north, the study says. That's roughly from the lower end of Alaska to Anchorage, or from Glasgow, Scotland to the Shetland Islands.
Next, set the aperture on the nice wide lens – an F-stop of about 1.4 – to let more light touch the camera's sensor. And reduce the shutter speed, which is measured in fractions of seconds. "When you want to get as much light as possible, you can have a shutter speed below 1/30, which is where the tripod comes in," says Krales. Otherwise, a shaky grip on the camera could mean a blurred exposure. You can also raise the ISO, which increases the sensitivity of the sensor to light. And it is better to shoot raw files instead of compressed formats such as JPEG, because raw files store the greatest amount of digital information and retain the nuances of tone and color.
"Technology has allowed us to take nocturnal photos in a way that we really could not do 20 years ago," says Krales. But, you are only for the accompaniment of acapella.