Megacryometeor

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A megacryometeor is a very large chunk of ice which, despite sharing many textural, hydro-chemical and isotopic features detected in large hailstones, is formed under unusual atmospheric conditions which clearly differ from those of the cumulonimbus cloud scenario (i.e. clear-sky conditions). They are sometimes called huge hailstones, but do not need to form under thunderstorm conditions. Jesús Martínez-Frías, a planetary geologist and astrobiologist at Institute of Geosciences (Spanish : Instituto de Geociencias, IGEO) in the Spanish National Research Council (Spanish : Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, CSIC) [1] in Madrid, pioneered research into megacryometeors in January 2000 after ice chunks weighing up to 6.6 pounds (3.0 kg) rained on Spain out of cloudless skies for ten days.

Ice water frozen into the solid state

Ice is water frozen into a solid state. Depending on the presence of impurities such as particles of soil or bubbles of air, it can appear transparent or a more or less opaque bluish-white color.

Hail Form of solid precipitation

Hail is a form of solid precipitation. It is distinct from ice pellets, though the two are often confused. It consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, each of which is called a hailstone. Ice pellets fall generally in cold weather while hail growth is greatly inhibited during cold surface temperatures.

Cumulonimbus cloud genus of clouds, dense towering vertical cloud associated with thunderstorms and atmospheric instability

Cumulonimbus is a dense, towering vertical cloud, forming from water vapor carried by powerful upward air currents. If observed during a storm, these clouds may be referred to as thunderheads. Cumulonimbus can form alone, in clusters, or along cold front squall lines. These clouds are capable of producing lightning and other dangerous severe weather, such as tornadoes. Cumulonimbus progress from overdeveloped cumulus congestus clouds and may further develop as part of a supercell. Cumulonimbus is abbreviated Cb.

Contents

Mass and size

More than 50 megacryometeors have been recorded since the year 2000. They vary in mass between 0.5 kilograms (1.1 lb) to several tens of kilograms. One in Brazil weighed in at more than 50 kilograms (110 lb). [2] Chunks about 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in size fell in Scotland on 13 August 1849. [3]

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

Formation

The process that creates megacryometeors is not completely understood, mainly with respect to the atmospheric dynamics necessary to produce them. They may have a similar mechanism of formation to that leading to production of hailstones. [4] Scientific studies show that their composition matches normal tropospheric rainwater for the areas in which they fall. In addition, megacryometeors display textural variations of the ice and hydro-chemical and isotopic heterogeneity, which evidence a complex formation process in the atmosphere. [5] [6] [7] It is known that they do not form from airplane toilet leakage because the large chunks of ice that occasionally do fall from airliners are distinctly blue due to the disinfectant used.

Rain liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then precipitated

Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.

Atmosphere The layer of gases surrounding an astronomical body held by gravity

An atmosphere is a layer or a set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in place by the gravity of that body. An atmosphere is more likely to be retained if the gravity it is subject to is high and the temperature of the atmosphere is low.

Disinfectant Antimicrobial agents that are applied to the surface of non-living objects to destroy microorganisms

Disinfectants are antimicrobial agents that are applied to the surface of non-living objects to destroy microorganisms that are living on the objects. Disinfection does not necessarily kill all microorganisms, especially resistant bacterial spores; it is less effective than sterilization, which is an extreme physical and/or chemical process that kills all types of life. Disinfectants are different from other antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics, which destroy microorganisms within the body, and antiseptics, which destroy microorganisms on living tissue. Disinfectants are also different from biocides — the latter are intended to destroy all forms of life, not just microorganisms. Disinfectants work by destroying the cell wall of microbes or interfering with their metabolism.

Some have speculated that these ice chunks must have fallen from aircraft fuselages [4] after plain water ice accumulating on those aircraft through normal atmospheric conditions has simply broken loose. However, similar events occurred prior to the invention of aircraft. [8] [9] Studies indicate that fluctuations in tropopause, associated with hydration of the lower stratosphere and stratospheric cooling, can be related to their formation. [5] A detailed micro-Raman spectroscopic study made it possible to place the formation of the megacryometeors within a particular range of temperatures: −10 to −20 °C (14 to −4 °F). [10] They are sometimes confused with meteors because they can leave small impact craters.

The tropopause is the boundary in the Earth's atmosphere between the troposphere and the stratosphere. It is a thermodynamic gradient stratification layer, marking the end of troposphere. It lies, on average, at 17 kilometres (11 mi) above equatorial regions, and above 9 kilometres (5.6 mi) over the polar regions.

Stratosphere The layer of the atmosphere above the troposphere

The stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere. The stratosphere is stratified (layered) in temperature, with warmer layers higher and cooler layers closer to the Earth; this increase of temperature with altitude is a result of the absorption of the Sun's ultraviolet radiation by the ozone layer. This is in contrast to the troposphere, near the Earth's surface, where temperature decreases with altitude. The border between the troposphere and stratosphere, the tropopause, marks where this temperature inversion begins. Near the equator, the stratosphere starts at as high as 20 km, around 10 km at midlatitudes, and at about 7 km at the poles. Temperatures range from an average of −51 °C near the tropopause to an average of −15 °C near the mesosphere. Stratospheric temperatures also vary within the stratosphere as the seasons change, reaching particularly low temperatures in the polar night (winter). Winds in the stratosphere can far exceed those in the troposphere, reaching near 60 m/s in the Southern polar vortex.

Impact crater Circular depression on a solid astronomical body formed by a hypervelocity impact of a smaller object

An impact crater is an approximately circular depression in the surface of a planet, moon, or other solid body in the Solar System or elsewhere, formed by the hypervelocity impact of a smaller body. In contrast to volcanic craters, which result from explosion or internal collapse, impact craters typically have raised rims and floors that are lower in elevation than the surrounding terrain. Impact craters range from small, simple, bowl-shaped depressions to large, complex, multi-ringed impact basins. Meteor Crater is a well-known example of a small impact crater on Earth.

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Spectroscopy study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation

Spectroscopy is the study of the interaction between matter and electromagnetic radiation. Historically, spectroscopy originated through the study of visible light dispersed according to its wavelength, by a prism. Later the concept was expanded greatly to include any interaction with radiative energy as a function of its wavelength or frequency, predominantly in the electromagnetic spectrum, though matter waves and acoustic waves can also be considered forms of radiative energy; recently, with tremendous difficulty, even gravitational waves have been associated with a spectral signature in the context of LIGO and laser interferometry. Spectroscopic data are often represented by an emission spectrum, a plot of the response of interest as a function of wavelength or frequency.

Cirrus cloud genus of atmospheric cloud

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Water vapor gaseous phase of water; unlike other forms of water, water vapor is invisible

Water vapor, water vapour or aqueous vapor is the gaseous phase of water. It is one state of water within the hydrosphere. Water vapor can be produced from the evaporation or boiling of liquid water or from the sublimation of ice. Unlike other forms of water, water vapor is invisible. Under typical atmospheric conditions, water vapor is continuously generated by evaporation and removed by condensation. It is less dense than air and triggers convection currents that can lead to clouds.

Mushroom cloud Pyrocumulus mushroom-shaped cloud of debris/smoke resulting from a large explosion

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References

  1. "Ficha de Jesús Martínez Frías en el Directorio del IGEO de CSIC, 1 de mayo de 2017".
  2. Gelo caindo do céu assusta moradores Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine (in Portuguese).
  3. Peter T. Bobrowsky; Hans Rickman (2007). Comet/asteroid impacts and human society: an interdisciplinary approach. Springer. pp. 343–. ISBN   978-3-540-32709-7 . Retrieved 2 February 2012.
  4. 1 2 The Peculiar Phenomenon of Megacryometeors by Alan Bellows.
  5. 1 2 Martinez-FrÍas, J.; Delgado, A.; MillÁn, M.; Reyes, E.; Rull, F.; Travis, D.; Garcia, R.; LÓpez-Vera, F.; et al. (2005). "Oxygen and Hydrogen Isotopic Signatures of Large Atmospheric Ice Conglomerations". Journal of Atmospheric Chemistry. 52 (2): 185. Bibcode:2005JAtC...52..185M. doi:10.1007/s10874-005-2007-7.
  6. Martinez-Frias, Jesus; Delgado Huertas, Antonio (2006). "Megacryometeors: Distribution on Earth and Current Research". AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment. 35 (6): 314. doi:10.1579/06-S-187.1.
  7. Orellana, Francisco Alamilla; Alegre, José Ma Ramiro; Cordero Pérez, José Carlos; Martín Redondo, Ma Paz; Delgado Huertas, Antonio; Fernández Sampedro, Ma Teresa; Menor-Salván, César; Ruiz-Bermejo, Marta; et al. (2008). "Monitoring the fall of large atmospheric ice conglomerations: a multianalytical approach to the study of the Mejorada del Campo megacryometeor" (PDF). Journal of Environmental Monitoring. 10 (4): 570–4. doi:10.1039/b718785h. PMID   18385879.
  8. William R. Corliss (1983). Tornados, dark days, anomalous precipitation, and related weather phenomena: a catalog of geophysical anomalies. Sourcebook Project. ISBN   978-0-915554-10-2.
  9. Riesgos Naturales, by Olcina Santos, J. and Ayala-Carcedo, J.
  10. Rull, F.; Delgado, A.; Martinez-Frias, J. (2010). "Micro-Raman spectroscopic study of extremely large atmospheric ice conglomerations (megacryometeors)". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 368 (1922): 3145–52. Bibcode:2010RSPTA.368.3145R. doi:10.1098/rsta.2010.0103. PMID   20529951.