Presumed Reflection Subsun in Denmark

Bright and defined reflection subsun. Photo: Anders Falk Jensen

On June 5th, 2015, Anders Falk Jensen made a very interesting observation:

“It was very calm, no or very little wind. At 4.20-4.22 local time I observed a red upper pillar around 30 min’s before sunrise in altocumulus virga.

Later on the train at 5.40-5.48 local time, I observed a peculiar looking pillar in front of the altoculumus clouds, while travelling for 12 km from the town of Jelling through Gadbjerg to Give, Denmark. Sunrise had taken place approx. 60 min’s earlier. The solar elevation during the 8 minute observation increased from 5.4 to 6.5 degrees. The azimuth of the Sun changed from 57.1 to 58.6 degrees.

With these data, I later looked on a map and found the lakes Mossø and Skanderborg plus the Bay of Aarhus, located at distances between 44 and 68 km, suitable for providing the reflected sunlight. I then calculated the cloud height for the reflection to be at 2.5 to 3.5 km, appropriate for altocumulus clouds.

So, I believe that sunrays on this morning were reflected off the calm surface of these lakes, then reached ice crystal virga underneath the altocumulus, creating the phenomenon of a reflection subsun/pillar (which actually is like a subsun turned upside down). The sun was hidden by the clouds all the time, which is actually needed for this kind of observation, as a reflection subsun just about coincides with the sun. After years of observing such phenomena, I immediately knew, that this was something extraordinary. The irregularities seen might originate from minor water surface disturbances and the shape of the lake and surroundings. Also of interest are the vertical “pillar slices”. In some of my photos, weak reflection crepuscular rays are also visible.”

It is of note, that for the observation to hold its place as a halo, there must have been ice crystal clouds in about 3 km altitude in June. The ambient ground level temperature was circa 15 degrees centigrade according to the Danish Weather Office. A radiosonde analysis is not available any more from Denmark, but both Norderney in northern Germany and Stavanger in Norway reported rather warm temperatures at the altocumulus cloulds’ height, so this halo came as a surprise in them.

Further examples of reflection subsun: 123

Article about reflection subsun

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