Secrets of the Hole-punch Clouds Revealed

The world is filled with miraculous natural wonders and events that remain unexplained. Human nature causes us to question these phenomena, and sometimes this gives rise to speculation regarding intricate government plots and unidentified flying objects. But sometimes there is a very simple explanation, which some might find disappointing, but scientists are able to make sense of through a little research and study. One of these unexplained occurrences has recently been solved, namely the mystery and not so sensational secrets of the hole-punch clouds.

A hole-punch cloud looks exactly as the name suggests. It is a cloud that has a circular hole in it that looks so perfect; it is as if it was punched with a massive hole-punch. These clouds led UFO enthusiast to believe that the holes were being created by alien aircraft and the theories began growing over time. They even made headlines in Russia when just such a cloud was hanging over Moscow in 2009.

To bring an end to speculation, a team of researchers and scientists, led by Andrew Heymsfield of the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, decided to investigate this phenomenon, and found the culprit to be nothing more than commercial aircraft. And from what they discovered, airplanes can cause much more than just a hole in a cloud from landing and taking off. After the hole is created, rain or snow can also follow, as it was found that the air behind an airplane is exposed to very low temperatures, forming small droplets of water. There droplets then become frozen and begin to fall to earth. Also observed by the scientists was the fact that the hole was formed in the same orientation of the light path followed by commercial airplanes. Most of the hole-punch clouds investigated formed at the end of a runway. Heymsfield confirmed that aircraft traveling through the clouds during relevant hole forming conditions can create this spectacle.

During the 1940s scientists also wondered about these clouds, yet before World War II there were no such sightings, confirming that before there were airplanes there were no holes in the clouds. This new study has therefore put a damper on all other speculations and theories, and has opened the door to possible studies that could look at the small weather changes created by airplanes.