Novaya Zemlya
History • Location • Effect

Novaya Zemlya Effect

The Novaya Zemlya effect is an arctic mirage named after the archipelago. The effect was first spotted in 1597, during the third polar expedition of William Barents.

Stranded in the ice, Barents's crew overwintered on the Russian island of Novaya Zemlya. On Jan. 24, the crew's navigator, Gerrit de Veer spotted a sunrise.

The problem: that far north, the laws of geography said the sun would not crest the horizon for another two weeks.

Many scientists discounted the observation, attributing it to an error in date-keeping.

But others believed, and wondered how this could be possible. In the late 1970s, a paper proved the effect, which was called an arctic mirage. This effect is caused by thermal inversions - a phenomenon that places warm air on top of cold air.

It is like a large mirror in the sky. The sun might be below the horizon, but its rays might strike this layer and come back down, so one can see it. Thus, the Novaya Zemlya effect gives the impression of a distorted sun, sometimes in the form of a square or line.

Bellow is a picture showing Novaya Zemlya Effect Example

*The image, taken in San Francisco 4 minutes after the sunset, is a very similar visual representation of the Novaya Zemlya Effect, as seen by Fridtjof Nansen in 1597
Novaya Zemlya Effect Example

Novaya Zemplya

Novaya Zemplya Effect

Sea surface temp - Novaya Zemlya