I live in Hamburg in northern Germany and a few years ago I started to notice this: It is always foggy on new years eve. Yesterday there even was a sight distance of about 10 meters at some point. This doesn't happen usually in the city.

I have some basic meteorology knowledge and know about the process of how fog emerges. But the fact that it happens every new years eve with extreme intensity got me thinking. It can't be a coincidence.

My theory is that there are a lot of particles in the atmosphere from the fireworks and that water condenses on them. Am I right or is there another reason? Or am I completely wrong and this is just coincidence?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think this is not a general phenomenon. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Jan 1, 2016 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @Danu okay, it is kind of clear that it has to be localized. In my area you are always somewhere near the dew point in winter. But usually the fog is not that excessive. $\endgroup$ Jan 1, 2016 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ I think this question is perhaps better suited for Earth Science. $\endgroup$
    – Danu
    Jan 1, 2016 at 14:07
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Yes, lots of fireworks will cause fog nucleation. The same occurs on/near Nov 5th in the UK. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Jan 1, 2016 at 14:38

1 Answer 1


Because of the extensive fireworks on new years eve a wide variety of particles enter the lower part of the atmosphere (boundary layer). Among those are trace gases but also black carbon [1]. Black carbon acts as a strong cloud condensation nuclei [2] which enhances condensation and therefor fogginess. Also, "SO2 is a precursor to the formation of sulfate aerosols that are considered important in forming and modifying aerosols that could become CCN as well as modifying the number concentrations and size distributions of cloud droplets" [3]. SO2 is also a very common compound that is emitted in any form of burning.

The fact that the atmosphere is very stable during nighttime and mixing hardly occurs makes that the fog stays until the next morning/day until it is mixed over a larger volume.


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