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Climate: when the sky turned green

Climate: when the sky turned green over Sydney

Sydney skies turned green during mother nature’s latest attack upon her spoilers.

There are lots of theories floating around the internet, but Dr Joshua Soderholm, a research scientist at Monash University, can clear up a little of the mystery. “There’s been a number of theories that have actually been slowly disproven by science over the years,” he said. “People originally started by thinking that it was the grass; somehow the green light coming off the grass was reflected through the storm back into people’s eyes.”

Morning Mail’s cloud dreaming division knows why the sky turned green frightening many into believing it was a Martian attack. MM’s reporter was alerted to peculiar behaviour at Bankstown regional airport at 11am on the day of the storm. What appeared to be the Greens leader Di Natale and that other idiot Sarah Hanson-Mungbean were observed filling huge weather monitoring balloons with a green powder and sent aloft. At the required altitude, air pressure would burst the balloons allowing the green powder to mix with the rain. A class action against the Greens by those caught in the weather is expected from those whose clothing turned green.

Source: ABC

Green thunderstorms: there have been many theories behind the mysterious glow

Pictures posted online of clouds with a spooky green glow have been generating debate.

But Dr Soderholm says that isn’t the case.

Another theory is that it was because of the contrast between warmer afternoon light colours and the cloud — but Dr Soderholm doesn’t rate this theory either, nor that the green appears when there are storms close to sunset.

“I have seen photos of thunderstorms that look green before lunchtime as well. I don’t think it has anything to do with the time of the day.”

So why green?

Dr Soderholm says the best theory is that the thunderstorms act as a filter.

“There’s actually light coming through the thunderstorm and that’s filtering out certain wavelengths, and one of the wavelengths that does make it through is the green colours.

“I have seen it myself on a number of occasions, where it is very clear that the light is coming from the cloud, through the cloud itself.”

Cauliflower-shaped hailstones?

Sydney’s storm left a huge damage bill and produced some unusual hailstones. What’s behind their weird shapes?

Do green clouds foreshadow hail?

“That’s what’s thought, and even a lot of meteorologists think that as well,” Dr Soderholm said, adding that there is a link between the most severe supercells and the green light.

“The more severe storms that I’ve seen, and a number of that had been documented, really do have this pronounced green effect.

“It seems to be associated with the most intense thunderstorms.”

He says the green light is often seen in the updraft area of the storm.

“It is almost as if the light is shining through the updraft, through the top of the storm and being filtered out on its way through all of the hail and rain in the updraft.

“There would definitely be some relationship between how much rain is present, how much hail is present, and the colours of the light that makes it through.”

But there are still many unknowns when it comes to the mysterious green light.

“There has been some basic modelling studies that have looked into [the relationship between updraft content and colour] but it’s very hard to definitively prove,” Dr Soderholm said.

“There are so many things about thunderstorms that we only have the best theory.”

What about coloured lightning?

It is not just clouds that can take on strange colours, with lightning also changing colour depending on the conditions.

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“It relates to the moisture content, so dry air versus very humid air produces different coloured lightning,” Dr Soderholm said.

“[It happens] if there is dust in the air as well, so obviously you’ll get red-orange lightning if there is dust in the air.”

But then there are also less phenomenal reasons for pictures to look unusual; strange-coloured lightning can be the result of how a camera captures an image.

“Cameras aren’t really designed to capture lightning,” Dr Soderholm said.

It does always pay to have a little caution before assuming that pictures are perfect representations of reality … especially on the internet.

But getting to see the phenomenal weather from around the world and talk about how it works is one of the wonders of the web.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Pensioner Pete 22/12/2018, 7:13 am

    There is no mystery about the green colour seen in a thunderstorm, even as a child, I knew it was a sign of impending hail. Perhaps I should seek about $444 Million so I can begin a study on the phenomena.

    • DT 22/12/2018, 7:15 am

      $444 million?

      Please explain? Because the politicians don’t seem to know.

      • Pensioner Pete 22/12/2018, 7:48 am

        DT: If research on a perfectly healthy Great Barrier Reef can score $444 Million, I should be in like Flynn.

  • DT 22/12/2018, 7:14 am

    In 1999 when the previous massive hail storm hit Sydney I was driving north towards Top Ryde which is a high point overlooking to the south. The sky back there was green and dark, obviously a storm underway. I completed my drive home where I had a grand view across Sydney Harbour to the CBD and eastern suburbs harbourside and to the south and west.

    The storm did not cross to the north side until it was close to the coast, it moved across the eastern suburbs and then crossed the Harbour and out to sea.

    Family and friends under the path of the storm suffered severe damage to homes, gardens and motor vehicles. A niece’s Toyota looked like somebody had taken to it with a hammer, front and rear screens smashed. Roofs were damaged and holed at hundreds of houses. Hail stones as large as an orange were collected by a nephew and placed into the freezer and I had a look when I visited the day after.

    Once again the massive storm that hit Sydney missed where I am located but did cause damage not far away. We had high wind and rain leaving some broken tree limbs, bark and leaves to clean up. And side gates blown open. I am no longer living in Sydney.

    Must have been man-made global warming that caused the two storms.

    • Popular Front 22/12/2018, 12:16 pm

      Absolutely DT, no question about it. Global warming for sure. Can I have my grant money now?

  • Lorraine 22/12/2018, 9:13 am

    must be the 1st time this generation has seen such Hail……its happened before, its not climate change caused by humans farting a lot.

    • Popular Front 22/12/2018, 12:21 pm

      Years ago I was riding back into Sydney after a long weekend away and got hit with a heavy hailstorm just past the Gosford interchange so I pulled in under an overpass to wait it out. Within seconds & minutes every other southbound motorcycle had pulled in too and made the place look like a bike showroom. Motorcycles with smashed screens, dented tanks and a couple of dented helmets too.

  • J.K. 22/12/2018, 9:18 am

    Of coarse it’s global warming er, or was it carbon pollution? must have been one of those I know because I saw the expert on the ABC telling us so.

    • John E 22/12/2018, 12:59 pm

      The hole in the ozone layer is back.

  • DT 22/12/2018, 2:53 pm
    • Pensioner Pete 22/12/2018, 3:32 pm

      DT: I wonder if any hail hitting Western Sydney was Halal certified?

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