Novaya Zemlya effect

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The Novaya Zemlya effect: a distorted image due to the mirage.

The Novaya Zemlya effect is a polar mirage caused by high refraction of sunlight between atmospheric thermoclines. The Novaya Zemlya effect will give the impression that the sun is rising earlier than it actually should (astronomically speaking), and depending on the meteorological situation, the effect will present the sun as a line or a square (which is sometimes referred to as the "rectangular sun"), made up of flattened hourglass shapes. The mirage requires rays of sunlight to have an inversion layer for hundreds of kilometres (at least 400 km), and depends on the inversion layer's temperature gradient. The sunlight must bend to the Earth's curvature at least 400 km to allow an elevation rise of 5 degrees for sight of the sun disk.

The first person to record the phenomenon was Gerrit de Veer, a member of Willem Barentsz's ill-fated third expedition into the polar region. Novaya Zemlya, the archipelago where De Veer first observed the phenomenon, lends its name to the effect.

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