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A news article by M. Matson (“Large Plume Events in the Soviet Arctic,” Eos, December 9, 1986, pp. 1372–1373) described large plume events that were observed emanating from Novaya Zemlya Island (U.S.S.R.). Various geomorphic and anthropogenic activities were postulated as sources of this plume. An examination of the imagery presented, and the additional examples provided by Matson, suggest that this cold plume is a naturally occurring, orographically induced event.

Novaya Zemlya (NZ) Island is a northeast-to-southwest oriented island. The topography of the northern portion of the island, where the plumes were observed, is characterized by a continuous glacial ridge located at the center of the land mass. This glacier rises quickly from sea level to more than 2500 ft or ∼760 m (Figure 1). Ridges on the southern portion are oriented east-west and are below 2500 ft. In addition, the northern portion of the island arcs to the northeast, generally perpendicular to the movements of prevailing winds and weather systems.