Last updated on April 20, 2014 at 5:20 EDT
Low over the Arctic Ocean
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Low over the Arctic Ocean

April 23, 2013
A low pressure system has twisted the clouds over the Canada Basin of the Arctic Oceans into a delicate counter-clockwise spiral. In general, low pressure systems form when air mass and temperature differences pull air up from the surface of the Earth, decreasing the air pressure at the surface. In the Northern Hemisphere, winds spiral around the center of the low in a giant counter-clockwise circle. The lower in pressure a low-pressure system gets, the more robust and larger this spinning circulation pattern becomes. Low pressure systems usually bring rain and strong winds. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite saw this low on August 30, 2005. The western edge of Canada’s Queen Elizabeth Islands can be seen on the right side of the image. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC