Internal Waves in the Andaman Sea

Satellite image of internal waves in the Andaman Sea.

Differences in temperature and salinity create distinct layers within the ocean. When combined with flow over submerged topography — underwater canyons, mountains, and reefs — it makes waves. But those waves aren’t always apparent when sitting at the surface. Instead, they travel along those ocean layers as internal waves that can be as tall as hundreds of meters in height.

When the sun glints just right off the ocean, these massive internal waves can be caught by satellite imagery, as shown in the above image of the Andaman Sea near Thailand and Myanmar. Even seemingly calm waters can roil in the deep. (Image credit: USGS; via NASA Earth Observatory)

    1. Nicole Sharp

      I feel like I’d have to cover this entire picture in arrows if I were going to point out all the waves. All those concentric curves that look like sea shells *are* the internal waves.

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