The coldest ever thunderstorm cloud temperature was recorded over the Pacific in 2018, according to a new study. The storm clouds become extremely cold on high altitudes but the temperature recorded over Pacific was very high and it was monitored by an Earth-orbiting satellite. The temperature recorded was -111°C that is more than 30°C cooler than storm clouds. The event was studied by Scott Bachmeier and Dr. Simon Proud and its research paper has been published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.
According to the study, the coldest cloud temperature was measured on top of a severe thunderstorm cloud in the Pacific by an Earth-orbiting satellite. The air temperature decreases with altitude in Earth's lowest section troposphere. Storms were captured on 29 December 2018 by the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) sensor aboard the American NOAA-20 satellite. The storm was measured about 400 south of Nauru in the South-Western Pacific.
VIIRS infrared view of storms near Nauru on 29th December 2018. In the picture, the coldest portions of cloud are purple while the warm Pacific Ocean is orange. (Image Credit: www.nceo.ac.uk)
According to the statement by National Centre for Earth Observation, the storm was so powerful that it pushed through the troposphere and went into the stratosphere. The storm cloud continued to cool as it gained height. The event is called overshooting top and it led to the storm cloud becoming the coldest known storm cloud. The temperature measured was -111°C and the tops of the cloud reached an altitude of over 20.5 Kilometres above sea level.
Dr. Simon Proud, a research fellow at the Department of Physics and the National Centre for Earth Observation said, "the storm has achieved the unprecedented temperature that pushes the limits of what current satellite sensors are measuring."
"We found that these really cold temperatures seem to be becoming more common with the same number of extremely cold temperatures in the last three years as in the 13 years before that", he said. "This is important, as thunderstorms with colder clouds tend to be more extreme and more hazardous to the people on the ground due to hail, lightning and wind", he added.