The last third of January gave the residents of Murmansk a long-awaited opportunity to see the sun. The polar night, which lasted 40 days, ended two weeks ago, but the constant continuous cloud cover prevented them from enjoying the sun's rays. Together with them, mother-of-pearl clouds appeared in the sky over the city and the entire region. This rare atmospheric phenomenon could be considered an indicator of climate change, said Vladimir Belakhovsky, a member of the Russian Geographical Society, senior researcher at Polar Geophysical Institute.
Polar stratospheric (mother-of-pearl) clouds occur at an altitude of 15-25km under the condition of abnormally low stratospheric temperature mainly in polar latitudes. They are most often observed in Antarctica, but they can also form in the countries of Scandinavia, Canada, the north of the Russian Federation and the United States.
Mother-of-pearl clouds are very beautiful – they seem to shimmer with all the colors of the rainbow. This rare atmospheric phenomenon can be observed mainly in the winter-spring period. They become brightest when the sun goes a few degrees beyond the horizon.
“The frequency of the appearance of mother-of-pearl clouds can serve as one of the indicators of climate warming. An increase in the content of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leads to negative temperature trends in the atmosphere above 15km. This creates conditions for ice crystallization and the formation of polar stratospheric (or mother-of-pearl) clouds," said Vladimir Belakhovsky, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
The Murmansk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society has published photos of a rare atmospheric phenomenon.