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Noctilucent Clouds From Above and Below

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Noctilucent or 'night shining" Clouds (NLCs) are tenuous ice clouds that form in the extremely cold (< 140 K) high-latitude summer mesopause region (80-85 km). From the ground they are viewable at latitudes typically ranging from 50° to 65° and occur in both the northern and southern polar regions. Seen from above by satellites NLC are known as Polar Mesospheric Clouds (PMCs). Importantly, in recent decades, satellite data have shown that their occurrence frequency and brightness have increased measurably (Deland et al., 2007), raising speculation concerning their role as indicators of significant changes in climate in the upper atmosphere (Thomas, 1996). To help integrate these data sets we have compared satellite observations with NLC data collected from the ground during two campaigns conducted in Canada (June 30-July 17) and Alaska (July 29-August 17) respectively during the summer of 2007. Here we present the first detailed comparison of satellite and ground-based optical measurements of these clouds to investigate their temporal and spatial extent.


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