Simulation of a Weak Mock-mirage Sunset
In this simulation, the thermal inversion is moderately weak: a change of only
0.8 K between 30 and 50 meters above sea level. That is, the bottom 30 m
of the model atmosphere are just 0.8 degrees colder than the
which applies above 50 m. Between 30 and 50 m, the
temperature profile is nearly linear, but with a lapse rate considerably
different from that in the rest of the lower atmosphere.
The edges of the inversion have been smoothed with a 2-meter-wide Gaussian
to satisfy the requirements of thermal physics.
The observer here is at 60 m
elevation, just 10 m above the top of the inversion layer.
Until the lower limb reaches the top of the inversion, this is a standard
sunset. When the lower limb reaches the top of the inversion, it
flattens out and pauses momentarily before popping back into view as a
separate blob below the main disk, which it quickly joins. (Of course,
this blob is a double image of the lower limb.) The blob first appears as
a small red flash; however, let's skip this red flash until
we have a
Notice the narrow, pointy indentations in the lower limb,
just where the blob joins the disk above it. These indentations become
pointy “spikes” sticking out of the upper limb when it reaches the
altitude where the line of sight is just tangent to the 25-m top of
the inversion layer. The pair of spikes separates from the rest of the
Sun when they reach the top of the disk, forming a “plume” that
turns green as it disappears. This weak green flash
is usually drowned out by the brighter disk below it.
For a better look at it, see the
© 1999 – 2002, 2005, 2006, 2013 Andrew T. Young
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