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Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 8:28 EDT
Wave Clouds in the Gulf of Mexico
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Wave Clouds in the Gulf of Mexico

March 20, 2008

March 15, 2008 was a relatively cloudless day over the Gulf of Mexico, when the MODIS on the Aqua satellite captured this image. The few clouds that were seen over the Gulf had an interesting, rippled, "wave" pattern.

Wave clouds are created when stable air is disturbed, causing air to move along the disturbance, like waves in a pond. If the layer of stable air is humid, where the air flows up, a cloud forms at the crest. Where it flows down from the crest, the cloud evaporates. The alternating absence and presence of clouds is what creates the rippled effect.