The below photograph was shot by Per-Anders Gustavsson in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden on December 31, and reveals why some onlookers have mistaken the phenomenon for daytime auroras.
“The colors were amazing,” said Gustavsson, who drives a tour bus for Visit Abisko. “I’ve seen a lot of beautiful things during my years in the Arctic. This was easily one of the greatest displays I have ever seen.”
Polar stratospheric clouds are newsworthy because the stratosphere usually has no clouds at all. The stratosphere is arid and almost always transparent. Only when the temperature drops to a staggeringly cold -85C (-121F) can sparse water molecules assemble themselves into icy stratospheric clouds.
PSCs are far more rare than auroras, and they are even visible at night — as shown in the below photo taken by Fredrik Broms in Kvaløya, Norway on December 31.
“Better than New Year fireworks — by far!” said Broms. “What an amazing way to end 2019.”
“This really is a rare event,” said Chad Blakley, who runs Lights over Lapland tour service in Abisko, Sweden.
“Local villagers in both Abisko and Kiruna who are more than 70 years old confirmed they have never seen anything of the size, scale, or intensity. At one point I would say that close to 25% of the sky was filled with the clouds. PSCs we have seen in previous winters have been closer to 1% or 2%,” concluded Blakley.
Stay tuned to spaceweather.com for updates as the outbreak continues.
The cold times are returning in line with historically low solar activity.
With solar cycle 25 likely just a stop-off on the sun’s descent into its next Grand Solar Minimum:
Prepare accordingly — grow your own.
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Grand Solar Minimum + Pole Shift
[Featured Image: taken by Göran Strand in Jämtland, Sweden on Dec. 30]