Arctic lights blamed on climate change

Santa and his reindeer will be able to see their way better than ever on Christmas Eve, for a mysterious light is beginning to brighten the dark polar winter.

Eskimos and scientists report a strange "lightness at noon" that is turning the usual all-day darkness of the high Canadian Arctic into twilight, apparently in defiance of natural laws. Canadian government officials say it may be the result of an unusual atmospheric phenomenon caused by global warming.

Inuit hunters are telling the government's weather station at Resolute Bay - Canada's second most northerly village, 1,000 miles from the North Pole - of a new light in the sky.

And Wayne Davidson, the Canadian government official who runs the station, says he believes it it caused by climate change.

For the past five years, Mr Davidson says, there has been a growing light along the horizon in the middle of the day in winter. "The entire horizon is raised like magic, like the hand of God is bringing it up," he says.

But Mr Davidson's investigations, backed by other scientists, suggest a more prosaic explanation. Warmer air, from global warming, is overlaying the cold air of the Arctic and the interface between the two creates a kind of "mirror in the sky" which reflects the sun's rays from further south.

So this Christmas Santa may be able to ignore Rudolph's red-nose and rely on pollution from the world's chimneys to find his way down them.

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