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No. 78: Nov-Dec 1991

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Radar Interference And Luminescence

March 8/9, 1989. Arabian Sea.
m.v. British Esk

Radar interference noted at sea

"During the night a particularly strong and distinct patch of radar interference was noted by all observing officers. The sketch shows the phenomenon as seen on the 12-n.mile range of the 3-cm radar. The racon type mark varied in length from 1-3 n.miles at a nearest range of 5-10 n.miles. The effect was minimal on the 10-cm radar.

"The bearing of the mark remained fairly constant at about 20 abaft the port beam or about 230. Of particular note was that around 1600 GMT to 1700 GMT (about 2 hours after sunset), when the mark on the radar was very distinct, the satellite communication system suffered a loss in signal strength sufficient to prevent transmission or reception, the bearing of the satellite being almost due south of the vessel. It was thought at the time that the signal mast had become aligned between the aerial and the satellite, but alteration of the ship's head to port or starboard did not cure the low signal strength.


"Of note, although this may have been a coincidence only, was that the vessel was passing through patches of bioluminescence at the time, mostly only bright enough to show up in the breaking waves of the ship's wake, but during the period of low signal strength, the whole area of white, foamy water along the ship's side frequently shone a bright greenish colour."

(St. Lawrence, P.F.; "Radar Interference," Marine Observer, 60:17, 1990.)

Comment. Apparently, some sort of electromagnetic disturbance affected not only the radar but also satellite communications and the bioluminescent organisms in the water. Could it have been one of those plasma vortexes said by some to be responsible for some of those crop circles?

Reference. Other examples of radar phenomena associated with bioluminescence are cataloged in GLW10 and GLW14 in our catalog: Lightning, Auroras. To order, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #78, NOV-DEC 1991. 1991-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987