If you ever encountered a noctilucent cloud, you’ve probably never forgotten it. In part, that’s because it’s straight-up stunning but also because, if you saw it, you were probably near one of the poles. But something is happening to these clouds. They are getting brighter, more common, and they are coming to you.
This satellite photo of the noctilucent clouds — literally “nightshining” clouds — gathering was grabbed last week on June 10. While the thickest cover of the clouds is still concentrated nearest the poles, NASA Earth notes that a thinner layer (too thin to spot from the satellites, but still clearly visible from the ground) extended far enough down that it could easily be seen in parts of the continental U.S.
So what’s causing the changes to the clouds, which are becoming more frequent, brighter, and showing up in lower latitudes than ever before? Researchers think it’s linked to the Earth’s rapidly rising temperatures. And it’s looking like this summer might be particularly rife with night-shining clouds. So, eyes to the skies, friends — and report back what you see. In the meantime, enjoy a ground-level view:
Top map: NASA Earth Observatory; Image of noctilucent clouds: Jan Erik Paulsen