Eddies and vortexes, from space

A braid of eddies behind the Revillagigedo Archipelago in the North Pacific have created the fanciful swirls in the clouds seen in these Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images, acquired by the Terra (morning) and Aqua (afternoon) satellites on May 13, 2004. The eddies form as air moving near the surface of the ocean is forced up and around the islands. The pattern became more distinct through the day, with the afternoon image showing a much clearer vortex street. Credit: Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Clouds swirl around Heard Island in the south Indian Ocean in this Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image, acquired on September 30, 2004 by NASA’s Aqua satellite. Cloud vortices such as these occur when air close to the surface of the Earth flows over a mountain or an island. The eddies that form in the air as it moves around the obstruction create the delicate cloud pattern seen here. Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

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