Stunning Wave Clouds - An Extraordinary Sight

31 December, 2012

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Follow us: - Wave clouds can be a very extraordinary sight. This type of clouds are created as stable air flows over a raised land feature such as a mountain range, and can form either directly above or in the lee of the feature.

On Christmas morning, Gene Hart of Jonesport, Maine, woke up early to enjoy the sunrise before opening presents, reports.

What he saw may have been the best gift of all. "There was a cloud formation showing a remarkable series of wave shapes," says Hart. "They were backlit by the rising sun over Moosabec Reach." He snapped this picture of the harbor using a 14-megapixel digital camera:

"I also took some 28x zoom images of the wave structure," says Hart. The close-ups are a must-see.

These clouds, sometimes called "billow clouds," are produced by the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability when horizontal layers of air brush by one another at different velocities. A better name might be van Gogh clouds: It is widely believed that these waves in the sky inspired the swirls in van Gogh's masterpiece The Starry Night.

The Starry Night (Dutch: De sterrennacht) is a painting by the Dutch post-impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh.

Image credit & copyright: Gene Hart of Jonesport, Maine

Wave clouds can be sighted over the ocean as well as mountains.

Enormous breakers on a calm sea: Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds in thick Cirrus in Jervis Bay, Australia.
Image credit & copyright: Giselle Goloy

Photo of the Moul n'ga Cirque in the Tadrart region, Southeast Algeria, with wave clouds above.

Kelvin Helmholtz instability clouds in San Francisco. Image credit & copyright: Brocken Inaglory

Phenomenal Rotor Cloud over Pueblo County. The amazing corkscrew appearance was a manifestation of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves named after Lord Kelvin (1824-1907) and Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894).
Image credit & copyright: K. Torgerson

Image credit & copyright: Judith Sanchez

See also:
Dangerous Clouds At The Edge Of Space Are Spreading

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