Cloud streets off of the Aleutian Islands

Jan 30, 2012
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Jeff Schmaltz/MODIS Land Rapid Response Team

(PhysOrg.com) -- Strong winds polished the snow of southwestern Alaska and stretched marine stratocumulus clouds into long, parallel streets in early January, 2012. After crossing Bristol Bay, the winds scraped the clouds across the tall volcanic peaks of the Aleutian Islands. As the wind impacted the immobile mountains, the airflow became turbulent, swirling in symmetric eddies and carving intricate patterns into the clouds on the leeward side of the islands.

At the top of this image, the bright white color indicates a thick layer of snow overlying the land of southwestern Alaska. The pristine white is broken by the rugged Ahklun Mountain Range in the east, which is partially covered by a bank of clouds.

Off the coast of Alaska, floats in Bristol Bay, cracked and chipped by the flow of the waters which lie underneath. A few cloud streets – parallel lines of clouds – can be seen in the far northwest over land. The clouds increase over the sea ice and become thick over open water, where row upon row of clouds lie close in perfectly parallel formation.

The stretch from northeast to southwest across the image. Sea ice, which is bright white here, lies on the windward side of the islands. A few of the tallest volcanic peaks can be seen rising from the icy islands.

The character of the cloud streets change as they impact the Aleutians, especially near the center of the image, where two rows of beautifully symmetric swirls of eddies in the clouds stretch across the sky. These swirling formations are known as von Karman vortex streets. This true-color image was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite on January 11, 2012.

Explore further: Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

CALIPSO spies polar stratospheric clouds

Feb 10, 2011

NASA’s Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO) satellite was in the right place at the right time in early 2011. On January 4, while flying past the east coast of Greenland, ...

NASA sees a weakening Cyclone Funso's 'closed eye'

Jan 28, 2012

Powerful Cyclone Funso's eye has been clear in NASA satellite imagery over the last several days until NASA's Aqua satellite noticed it had "closed" and become filled with high clouds on January 27.

Recommended for you

Strong quake hits east Indonesia; no tsunami threat

5 hours ago

A strong earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Indonesia on Sunday evening, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, and authorities said there was no threat of a tsunami.

Scientists make strides in tsunami warning since 2004

Dec 19, 2014

The 2004 tsunami led to greater global cooperation and improved techniques for detecting waves that could reach faraway shores, even though scientists still cannot predict when an earthquake will strike.

Trade winds ventilate the tropical oceans

Dec 19, 2014

Long-term observations indicate that the oxygen minimum zones in the tropical oceans have expanded in recent decades. The reason is still unknown. Now scientists at the GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.