Novaya Zemlya Effect
Named for the island in the Russian Arctic from which it was first observed in the late 16th century, the Novaya Zemlya effect is a rare atmospheric phenomenon seen only in the frigid polar regions. When the Novaya Zemlya effect occurs, the sun appears to rise much earlier than it actual rises, and is a curious rectangular shape rather than a circle. The sun's image is, in effect, projected onto the sky while the sun is still several degrees below the physical horizon.
The mechanism behind this strange mirage is the stability of the polar air, which is extremely cold and therefore extremely still. This means that inversions -- the boundaries between layers of th atmosphere, where conditions change from one direction to another, for example from increasing temperature to decreasing temperature -- are very smooth and even. The sun's rays reflect along these precisely even inversions, which must be over 250 miles long in order to create the Novaya Zemlya effect, and must have a specific temperature gradient.
The Novaya Zemlya effect has not been studied completely because of the remote location where it occurs, but it seems to occur on a daily basis in the late winter of the polar regions, from January through April. Scientists guess that it also happens in the autumn, but have not yet collected enough data to be sure. Since its discovery by a Dutch explorer in the 1500s, the Novaya Zemlya effect has passed from being a ridiculed fable to a peculiar, but well-recognized, part of the world's weather phenomena.