“Wow!” “Amazing!” “Beautiful!”
It’s common to hear these exclamations from those lucky enough to view Noctilucent clouds (night shining clouds) on a summer night near the Arctic Circle. These beautiful clouds occur 50 miles above Earth’s surface, 5 times higher than tropospheric clouds. Also commonly referred to as Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs), they have mystified sky watchers and atmospheric scientists since the late 1800’s. Their unusual occurrence and possible link to climate change has pushed them into the media spotlight over the last decade. In April 2007, NASA launched the AIM (Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere) satellite specifically designed to understand these clouds better. In this February 2, 2011 public lecture, Dr. Aimee Merkel discusses recent findings about PMCs and highlight work done at the University of Colorado on the AIM mission.
Watch the Public Lecture