Phenomena

Vortices in the Wind

Heard Island, a remote patch of rock in the southwestern Indian Ocean, peeks its head above the marine cloud layer. The volcanic island disrupts the atmosphere enough to generate a von Karman vortex street, a line of alternating vortices shedding from either side of the island. Usually these vortices would march in a straight line downstream from their source. But here strong winds from the south have blown a bunch of its vortices northward, creating an unusual kink in the island’s wake. (Image credit: J. Schmaltz/LANCE EOSDIS Rapid Response; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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