Last update: June 26th, 2019 at 8:00 pm
Sunglint over the Cape Verde Islands off the west Coast of Africa reveals turbulence in the surface waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Sunglint appears in the image at the place where the angle with which the sun is hitting the water is the same as the angle it is being reflected back to MODIS. If the surface of the water was as smooth as a perfect mirror, this is the spot where we would see the circle of the Sun in each of the scans that are stitched together to make this image. Because the surface of the water is ruffled with waves, each acting like a mirror, the perfect reflection of the Sun gets softened into a broader horizontal area, called the sunglint region.
In this scene, the winds blowing southwestward over the Cape Verde Islands separate and come back together downwind of the islands. This coming back together creates turbulence both in the air and in the water. The surface appears brighter where this turbulence occurs, appearing as a sinuous swirl in the water. This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) was captured on March 27, 2003, by the Aqua satellite.
Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC