Phenomena

Actinoform Clouds

Two flower-like actinoform clouds and two von Karman vortices appear in the cloud cover in this satellite image.

Flower-shaped actinoform clouds, like those seen on the left side of this satellite image, were only discovered in the 1960s once satellite imagery allowed meteorologists to identify cloud structures that were too large to recognize from the ground. Often appearing over the ocean, these clouds can stretch over hundreds of kilometers, bringing drizzling rain.

This particular set of actinoform clouds have some distinctive neighbors in the right side of the image, where V-shaped slashes through the cloud cover mark the origins of two von Karman vortex streets. The vortex streets appear downwind of two rocky islands, Alejandro Selkirk Island and Robinson Crusoe Island. (Image credit: L. Dauphin; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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