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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 7:09 EDT
Nacreous Clouds Above Ross Island
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Nacreous Clouds Above Ross Island

July 1, 2010
Nacreous Clouds Above Ross Island Nacreous clouds above Ross Island, Antarctica. These polar stratospheric clouds at 80,000 feet are the highest of all clouds. They only occur in the polar regions when the stratospheric temperature dips below 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. They are also the site of chemical reactions that break down ozone in the upper atmosphere and contribute to the creation of the ozone hole above Antarctica. The National Science Foundation funds and manages the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), which carries forward the Nation's goals of supporting the Antarctic Treaty, fostering cooperative research with other nations, protecting the Antarctic environment, and developing measures to ensure only equitable and wise use of resources. The program comprises research by scientists selected from universities and other research institutions and operations and support by a contractor and other agencies of the U.S. Government. NSF operates three U.S. scientific stations year-round on the continent: McMurdo Station located on the Ross Sea--Antarctica's largest station that serves as a "gateway" to Antarctica for U.S. scientific field teams as well as the hub for most of the U.S. scientific activity; Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, located 841 statute miles inland from McMurdo, at the geographic South Pole; and Palmer Station, located on Anvers Island in the Antarctic Peninsula region. To learn more about the program, visit the USAP Web site. (Date of Image: Aug. 14, 2006)