© Directorate General of Meteorology in Oman
by Gillian Duncan
Also known as a hole punch cloud, it is often attributed to UFOs
A rare cloud sometimes mistaken for an alien invasion was spotted over Al Ain on Sunday.
The fallstreak hole, also known as a hole punch cloud, is a large circular gap that forms in cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds.
The unusual phenomenon happens when supercool droplets that have not yet frozen mix with ice crystals caused by airplanes passing through the cloud.
The ice crystals then start to fall, causing water droplets around them to evaporate. This process leaves a large hole in the cloud.
Although science has already answered the question of what a fallstreak hole is, because of their rarity and unusual appearance, they are often attributed to unidentified flying objects.
The cloud that appeared over Al Ain early on Sunday was pictured and shared by residents living in the city.
Resident David, who did not want to give his full name, spotted the cloud at around 7.30am when he was walking his son to school.
“I knew what it was,” David, who shared his picture with the Cloud Appreciation Society Facebook group, told The National.
“The sky above Al Ain sometimes has interesting views, unusual or dramatic types of clouds, so we pay a bit of attention to what is going on above us.”
He said the cloud started to disappear within 10 to 15 minutes.
Sharjah astronomer and meteorologist Ebrahim Al Jarwan said the phenomenon has not been seen in the UAE for a decade.
“It can stays for two hours but generally it lasts between half an hour to one hour,” he said.
The cloud was seen in Al Ain, Al Breimi and Oman.
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The increase in noctilucent clouds is one of the effects – among others – of increased dust concentration in the atmosphere in general, and in the upper atmosphere in particular. We suspect that most of this atmospheric dust is of cometary origin, while some of it may be due to the recent increase in volcanic activity.
See also: Chemtrails? Contrails? Strange skies