Weird Cloud ‘Coils’ Captured by Earth-Observing Satellite

by Nancy Atkinson on March 28, 2013

Coil-like shapes in clouds, created by their passage over the Prince Edward Islands in the south Indian Ocean. Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS.

Coil-like shapes in clouds, created by their passage over the Prince Edward Islands in the south Indian Ocean. Credit: NASA/Terra/MODIS.

These are some of the strangest looking clouds I’ve seen from the fleet of Earth-observing satellites. These coil-like or bow-wave-shaped clouds were created by the clouds passing over the Prince Edward Islands, in the south Indian Ocean. It was taken by the Terra satellite with the MODIS instrument (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) on March 26, 2013.

Update: Vitaliy Egorov from the Russian website allmars.net has sent us an animation of these coil clouds as seen by the Russian satellite Elektro-L:

Animation is made up of 17 frames made satellite “Electro-L” from 12:30 to 20:30 GMT March 26, 2013 at 1 frame per 30 minutes. Photo: Roscosmos / NTSOMZ / Electro-L / allmars.net.

The images are taken from a different angle than the Terra satellite. You can see more at Egorov’s website.

NASA says MODIS is playing a vital role in the development of validated, global, interactive Earth system models able to predict global change accurately enough to assist policy makers in making sound decisions concerning the protection of our environment.

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Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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