Phenomena

Lenticular Clouds Over Ice

Lenticular clouds, like the one shown above, often attract attention due to their unusual shape. These stationary, lens-shaped clouds can form near mountains and other topography that force air to travel up and over an obstacle. This causes a series of atmospheric gravity waves, like ripples in the sky. If the temperature at the wave crest drops below the dew point, then moisture condenses into a cloud. As the air continues on into a warmer trough, the droplets can evaporate again, leaving a stationary lenticular cloud over the crest. This particular lenticular cloud was captured by Michael Studinger during Operation IceBridge in Antarctica. The line of ice in the foreground is a pressure ridge of sea ice formed when ice floes collided. (Photo credit: M. Studinger; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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