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Atmospheric Gravity Waves off New Zealand
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Atmospheric Gravity Waves off New Zealand

April 3, 2013
Atmospheric Gravity Waves ripple the surface of the ocean and shape the clouds over New Zealand and off its shores in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image captured by the Aqua satellite on November 7, 2003. Also called Atmospheric Internal Waves, Atmospheric Gravity Waves occur when a uniform layer of air blows over a mountain or an island. Before encountering the obstacle, the atmosphere must be stratified.each layer must have a uniform temperature and density, which only changes with height. When the air runs over the obstacle, in this case, New Zealand, the horizontal ribbons of uniform air are disturbed and a wave forms. The disturbance impresses its pattern on sea waves when it touches the surface of the ocean. In the air, Atmospheric Gravity Waves are manifest in wave clouds. Notice how both the clouds and the waves in this image have taken on the same pattern. Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC


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