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The South Sandwich Islands
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The South Sandwich Islands

November 12, 2009
The South Sandwich Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean. They are remote and inhospitable, with no native population. There are some unique cloud patterns to the south of this island chain. The band-patterns are called "ship-wave-shaped clouds". They are called this because they resemble ship waves (or "Kelvin ship waves"), which are the V-shaped wakes left by moving objects, such as ships or even ducks.

Ship-wave-shaped clouds are caused when wind flows past things like islands. The air is swept around and over it leaving a wake similar to that of a ship. The 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.

This image was captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on November 4, 2009.