What Causes "Heat Shimmers" Off Of Hot Pavement?

Tools

By By Steve Pool

SEATTLE - You've probably noticed on hot, summer days if you look at a distant roadway, that you can literally see the heat radiating off the pavement as a shimmering effect.

On those hot days, the pavement does a great job of absorbing the energy from the sun. As the heat radiates away, it causes a layer of very hot air near the surface. Air becomes less dense as it becomes warmer, and light can change direction and speed when it enters an area of changing density.

Much like how things appear different at the bottom of a pool than usual, the light bends as it passes between the areas of changing density to create the shimmering effect. It's similar physics that creates mirages.

For More Information:

science.howstuffworks.com.

Your Photos

YouNews Sunspot AR2192 Sunspot AR2192
Took these images of sunspot AR2192 Sunday using a Meade 6 inch refractor, Thousand Oaks Solar Filter (type 2) and an
imaging source video camera DFK21AU04.AS. The other images
were taken with a Nikon D3000 and various filters.