Cloud vortices off the Crozet Islands south Indian Ocean
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Cloud vortices off the Crozet Islands, south Indian Ocean

November 21, 2007
Cloud vortices- the interesting patterns seen here- are produced by the flow of air in the atmosphere. Clouds are made up of many small droplets of water or ice crystals, formed around what is called a condensation nucleus, which could be a small particle of dust, ash, or smoke. They reflect all visible wavelengths of sunlight, which often makes them appear white. However, clouds sometimes appear gray or even black, as they do in some portions of this image. This phenomenon is caused by the process of accumulation, where droplets within the cloud merge with others, forming larger droplets. The space between droplets then becomes larger, allowing more light to be absorbed within the cloud, thus making it appear darker to the naked eye. The Crozet Islands are located in the South Indian Ocean, about two-thirds of the way from Madagascar to Antarctica. They are known for their wildlife, including fur seals, leopard seals, and southern elephant seals, as well as numerous bird species.

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