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Clouds off the Aleutian Islands

March 23, 2010 - Clouds off the Aleutian Islands


Interesting cloud patterns were visible over the Aleutian Islands in this image, captured by the MODIS on the Aqua satellite on March 14, 2010. Turbulence, caused by the wind passing over the highest points of the islands, is producing the pronounced eddies that swirl the clouds into a pattern called a vortex "street". In this image, the clouds have also aligned in parallel rows or streets. Cloud streets form when low-level winds move between and over obstacles causing the clouds to line up into rows (much like streets) that match the direction of the winds. At the point where the clouds first form streets, they're very narrow and well-defined. But as they age, they lose their definition, and begin to spread out and rejoin each other into a larger cloud mass.


The Aleutians are a chain of islands that extend from Alaska toward the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia.


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Taken on March 23, 2010