Cloud Ring off Australian West Coast
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Cloud Ring off Australian West Coast

September 21, 2003
This stunning image of Western Australia shows clouds forming in a ring that stretches around almost the entire western end of the continent. Along the northern part of the ring are closed-cell clouds - clouds formed in hexagonal arrays where the air is sinking and cooling at the centers while rising and heating at the edges.

Also prominent in the image is Shark Bay. This bay, which is formed by two peninsulas jutting out from the mainland into the Indian Ocean, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to dugongs, an astounding variety of seagrasses, and a kind of algae (stromatolites) that are one of the oldest forms of life on the planet.

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