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Ship-Wave-Shaped Clouds by Kerguelen Island
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Ship-Wave-Shaped Clouds by Kerguelen Island

September 4, 2009
This image, captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on August 20, 2009 shows ship-wave-shaped clouds caused by the presence of the Kerguelen Island in the South Indian Ocean. This cloud pattern is so-named because it resembles the V-shaped wakes left by moving objects, such as ships or even ducks.

Wind behaves like a fluid; when it encounters an obstacle (like an island), it must move around it, leaving behind a wake, or a visible wave pattern. Ship-wave-shaped cloud patterns form as the air alternately cools and warms on the wave peaks and troughs, causing clouds to form on the peaks, but not the troughs.


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