Wave clouds in the central Atlantic Ocean • Earth.com

Last update: September 18th, 2019 at 6:00 pm

A complex cloud pattern illustrated unsettled wind in the central Atlantic Ocean in late April 2016. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of wave clouds in the central Atlantic on April 27.

The rippling wave clouds pattern appears similar to the pattern of waves along a seashore. The atmosphere behaves like a fluid, so when flowing air encounters an obstacle, it disrupts the flow. In this case, the turbulence causes the air to flow upwards, then downwards, creating a wave. Once a wave begins, it can continue over long distances. When the air crested a wave, the air cooled and clouds formed. As the air sank into the trough, the air warmed, and no clouds were formed. The clouds appear at the peak of every wave.

NASA

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