By Mark Prigg
PUBLISHED: 15:28 GMT, 10 December 2012 | UPDATED: 15:37 GMT, 10 December 2012
These stunning pictures show rare rainbow-drenched clouds providing a spectacular technicolour light show in the sky.
The shimmering display had people pointing to the sky in awe, and the clouds have previously been mistaked for UFOs.
The nacreous cloud formations, which could be seen from all around Aberdeenshire, were caused by a chemical reaction in the atmosphere 50 miles above the earth.
This unusual cloud was spotted over the north east of Scotland due to a chemical reaction 50 miles above the Earth’s surface
Nacreous clouds, sometimes called mother-of-pearl clouds, form in the very cold regions of the lower stratosphere some 15 – 25 km (9 -16 mile) high and well above tropospheric clouds.
They are so bright after sunset and before dawn because at those heights they are still sunlit.
They are formed when methane in the atmosphere reacts with ozone.
Although vibrant, the colourful light show is an unnatural event, triggered by a build-up of greenhouse gases.
Dave Clark, of Aberdeen Met Office, said: ‘It is unusual to be able to see these nacreous clouds as they are formed in the troposphere, high above our weather.
Some believe they could be implicated
‘They are a direct consequence of us releasing too much methane into the atmosphere and this reacts with the ozone to form chlorine clouds, which is what we see.
‘There was a very good display of them last night above Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire – in the past they could only be seen in the polar countries.
‘But that is worrying because of what it signifies about increased global warming.’
Nacreous clouds are only seen when they are illuminated from below the horizon and reflect it to the ground, which is why they shine brightest before dawn or after dusk.
They are often mistaken for extra-terrestrial activity by worried sky-watchers.
The unusual cloud over the north east of Scotland last night- described by weather experts as a nacreous cloud formation due to a chemical reaction 50 miles above the earth’s surface
The clouds are formed when methane in the atmosphere reacts with ozone to form chlorine clouds which is what we see
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