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Gravity Waves Ripple over Clouds

(Image credit: NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team)

In this natural-color image from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR), a fingerprint-like gravity wave feature occurs over a deck of marine stratocumulus clouds, according to a NASA statement.

Similar to the ripples that occur when a pebble is thrown into a still pond, such gravity waves sometimes appear when the relatively stable and stratified air masses associated with stratocumulus cloud layers are disturbed by a vertical trigger from the underlying terrain, or by a thunderstorm updraft or some other vertical wind shear.

The stratocumulus cellular clouds that underlie the wave feature are associated with sinking air that is strongly cooled at the level of the cloud-topssuch clouds are common over mid-latitude oceans when the air is unperturbed by cyclonic or frontal activity. This image is centered over the Indian Ocean (at about 38.9

Live Science Staff
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