The surface of our planet is constantly being warmed by greenhouse gases. It is also causing, however, rapid cooling at a very high altitude, right at the limit between our atmosphere and space. To be exact, the upper atmosphere is approximately 90 kilometers above Antarctica and it is getting colder at record speeds. It chills, on average, 10 times faster than the average warming at the surface of Earth.
Some new studies that have been performed have looked into this special cooling rate and indicate a phenomenal phenomenon: there is a novel four-year temperature cycle in the atmosphere in the polar region. The results of the study are based on 24 years of regular measurements taken by Australian scientists located in Antarctica. Just this month, the researchers published two separate papers.
According to their research, the upper atmosphere of the planet is a region known as the mesosphere, which is highly sensitive to the ever-increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. This is a new opportunity for researchers everywhere to see how well the interventions of governments all over the globe are working when it comes to reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases.
The project has another purpose. It monitors noctilucent, also known as night shining clouds. These are every photographer’s dream, but they are also every scientist’s nightmare. Noctilucent clouds are believed to be a bad sign regarding climate change.
Starting almost 30 years ago, researchers at the Davis research station, located in Australia, have taken over 600,000 measurements of the temperatures in the upper atmosphere, way above Antarctica. In order to look at those temperatures, a number of extremely sensitive optical devices have been used. These instruments are called spectrometers and they analyze the infrared row that radiates from hydroxyl molecules. Those are present in a very thin layer around 87 kilometers above the surface of our planet.