Internal Waves Sulu Sea
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Internal Waves, Sulu Sea

July 1, 2003
In the Sulu Sea between the Philippines and Malaysia, sunglint highlights delicate curving lines of internal waves moving to the northeast toward Palawan Island. The sunglint stretches diagonally across the image, turning the more turbulent South China Sea a diffuse gray and the calmer waters within the Sulu Archipelago a more vivid silver. In some spots, the sunglint doesn’t show up at all, and allows the natural vibrant blues and greens of the water to peek through.

Internal waves are a bit mysterious. If you were to stand on the shore of Palawan Island facing the Sulu Sea, you wouldn’t be able to see the waves coming toward you. That’s because the waves move along underwater, without rippling the surface. The Sulu Sea, like all major bodies of water, is composed of layers of water with differing densities. The topmost layer is the least dense, with each successively deeper layer being denser.

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