17 January 2011, JellyBean @ 8:35 am

The sun should have risen over the Greenland’s most westerly town, Ilulissat, on 13 January, ending a month-and-a-half of winter darkness.

For the first time in history, then sun actually came up two days earlier!

Scientists are now totally confused by this phenomenon and are trying to peg it on global warming.

According to some scientists, as the icecaps have melted due to global warming, the horizon gets lower. The result is that the sun rises earlier as there is no ice to block it.

The funny thing is that the sun in Ilulissat actually rises from behind mountains without ice.

Another option put forward is that the earth’s axis has changed slightly. This would also make the sun rise early.

But Wolfgang Lenhardt, director of the department of geophysics at the Central Institute for Meteorology in Vienna, denied this theory.

“The constellation of the stars has not changed. If that had happened, there would have been an outcry around the world.

‘The data of the Earth’s axis and Earth’s rotation are monitored continuously and meticulously and we would know if that had happened.”

The most plausible theory so far is that this is due to refraction.

Atmospheric refraction is the deviation of light or other electromagnetic wave from a straight line as it passes through the atmosphere due to the variation in air density as a function of altitude.

This refraction causes astronomical objects to appear higher in the sky than they are in reality – especially those that appear to be on the horizon.

With the strange weather caused by the jet stream this year, it would be unsurprising that the air density has changed somewhat which would cause this refraction effect to take place.

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