Professionally, Jónína Guðrún Óskarsdóttir works as the head nurse at a small healthcare center. In her spare time, she loves to photograph and share her surroundings. Luckily for us, since she lives on the eastern coast of Iceland, her surroundings are incredible. As you might imagine, she has plenty of opportunities to photograph the aurora borealis. But what really caught our eye were the photographs she has taken during the day when rare rainbow clouds filled the sky.
These polar stratospheric clouds (PSC) paint the sky with different colored stripes. PSCs are a type of wave cloud that are most often found downwind of mountain ranges. As expected, Óskarsdóttir's stunning rainbow cloud images feature prominent mountains. The colorful clouds form when the lower stratosphere hits -114°F (-81°C).
Normally, clouds don't appear in the lower stratosphere; but at such low temperatures, the water molecules present turn into small ice crystals. These ice crystals make up the clouds. When sunlight hits these clouds, the ice crystals cause the light to scatter and produce lovely striations of colors.
PSCs are divided into several different categories, including nacreous or mother-of-pearl clouds. Also known as Type II PSCs, these clouds are formed from pure water and, as such, produce more intense colors. In order for them to form, it needs to be even colder (-117°F or -83°C).
Though nacreous clouds are rare to see, extremely freezing conditions hit the area at the end of January, when Óskarsdóttir was able to capture the moment. Óskarsdóttir, who uses her photography hobby as a way to decompress from her stressful job, usually sees these colorful clouds two or three times a year.
She hopes that by sharing her work, people will come away with a smile and a positive connection with nature.