What Makes Our Coastal Sunsets So Gorgeous?

There’s no such thing as a sunset expert, but University of Washington atmospheric sciences and geophysics professor Steve Warren is pretty close.

By Allison Williams July 20, 2016 Published in the August 2016 issue of Seattle Met

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To explain why our sunsets are so world-class, Warren notes that, for one, our coastal vistas are perfect for catching the green flash, a second of color before the sun dips away, possible because of the “distance horizon” and the occasional temperate inversion. 

But the real blockbuster is the orange-y gradients that drop jaws and inspire photo sprees when the sun bows behind Washington sea stacks. Since a clear day is rare over the ocean, scattered cumulus clouds often reflect red sunset light—the blue end of the spectrum is more scattered by the atmospheric molecules. 

Of course, says Warren, “It depends on what you think is beautiful.” 

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