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Isla Socorro Vortices
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Isla Socorro Vortices

May 31, 2013
In late May, 2013 strong winds blowing over Isla Socorro, a volcanic Island located about 600 km off of the coast of Mexico, created a beautiful pattern in the clouds. The swirls, caused by turbulence created when winds blows against a large, immobile obstacle, are called von Kármán vortices, and the serpentine string of vortices is known as a von Kármán vortex street.

The volcanic shield volcano which makes up Isla Socorro rises to 3,445 ft (1050 m) above sea level, and forms a substantial obstacle to flowing wind. Such von Kármán vortex streets are often seen in this region.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image on May 22, 2013.

Credits: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC



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