The rising water vapor levels within the Earth’s atmosphere caused by human activity are causing glowing, high-altitude clouds to appear more conspicuous, according to the findings of a recent study released in the Geophysical Research Letters journal. According to this study, these odd, but more and more frequent, noctilucent clouds, visible on hot summer nights only, are a sign of human-caused climate change.
Noctilucent clouds, or simply night clouds, are the highest-lying clouds within the Earth’s atmosphere. They occur in the medium atmosphere, known as mesosphere, at about 80 kilometers over the surface of the Earth. The clouds form when water vapor is freezing over the dust debris generated by the meteors that passed through the atmosphere.
The new study explored satellite imagery and climate models to illustrate how the rising greenhouse gas levels from the combustion of fossil fuels have influenced the development of noctilucent clouds in the last 150 years. Extracting and combusting fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide, methane, and water vapor in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Increasingly common noctilucent clouds are a consequence of human-caused climate change
The study’s findings indicate that methane releases have boosted water vapor levels in the mesosphere by approximately 40 percent over the past century, which has more than doubled the quantity of ice that builds up in the medium atmosphere of our planet. According to the researchers, human activity is the leading culprit for the significantly more conspicuous noctilucent clouds today in comparison with 150 years ago.
“We speculate that the clouds have always been there, but the opportunity to see them was very, very poor,” said Franz-Josef Lubken from the Leibniz Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Kuhlungsborn, Germany, and the leading author of the study.
Noctilucent clouds are a warning that human-caused climate change is negatively impacting the medium atmosphere, the mesosphere, the study’s authors concluded. However, how the more and more common presence of these bright night clouds is affecting the Earth’s climate patterns is still a topic for further studies, the researchers stated.
Erin VanDyke lives on her family farm and has more than 35 years of hands-on experience with the use of livestock guard dogs for predator control. On their farm, Jan and her family use corgis as herding dogs and have raised Shetland sheep, Fainting goats, Morgan and Trakehner horses, and historic breeds of chickens and turkeys. Erin is also an active beekeeper.