Polarization & rainbows

About plane polarization & rainbows
  • Plane polarization is one of the optical effects that account for the appearance of rainbows.
  • Plane polarization, also known as linear polarization, is a characteristic of electromagnetic waves, including light.
  • The polarization of light in rainbows contributes to the vividness and intensity of the colours we see.
  • The light that produces rainbow effects is typically 96% polarized. This means that:
    • Observed light exiting a raindrop is polarized on a plane bisecting each droplet and tangential to the arcs of the rainbow.
  • The presence of other atmospheric phenomena, such as water droplets of varying sizes or ice crystals, can affect the amount of plane polarization and so influence the appearance of rainbows.