Iridescent Clouds and Sea Ice

October 23, 2001


Provided by: Ed Kim
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

The photograph above was taken during a NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center experiment that looked at melting sea ice during the summer of 2000. On the photo, the sea ice and clouds appear to have iridescent qualities. The Sun's rays in combination with tiny water droplets in the altocumulus cloud deck produce the pastel play of colors in the clouds and on the ice. Diffraction, the same process that causes coronae around the Sun and moon, is responsible for the iridescence.

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