Island Cloud Wakes
January 31, 2004
In the Southern Atlantic, located about 525 miles (845 km) east of South Georgia Island, a chain of eleven volcanic islands rises up from the ocean in an arc that extends roughly 240 miles (400 km) north to south. Known as the South Sandwich Islands, these volcanic peaks stand on the Earth’s South Sandwich Plate, which is moving eastward at the stately pace of 2.75 inches (7 cm) per year. As is apparent in this true-color image, the islands are tall enough to disrupt the cloud patterns forming and flowing around them. Most of this scene is dominated by a large formation of low-level stratiform clouds that appears to be flowing in a southeasterly direction (from upper left to lower right). However, appearances can be deceiving, as the wake patterns extending due eastward from each of the islands suggest that the air mass is moving to the east. This is a MODIS image.