Image of the Day: Cloud Art

By Tom Yulsman | November 14, 2013 12:51 am
Cloud art Von Karman Vortices Canary Islands

Cloud spirals called Von Karmon Vortices form south of the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off Africa, as seen in this image from NASA’s Aqua satellite captured on Nov. 7, 203. (Source: NASA)

While exploring satellite images of the world using NASA’s fabulous interactive Worldview application, I found this beautiful pattern of cloud spirals downwind of the Canary Islands, acquired by NASA’s Aqua satellite on November 7th.

Called Von Karman vortices, they are not all that uncommon. But I’ve typically seen them in more orderly lines, called “streets,” as opposed to the more chaotic and arresting pattern seen here. Call it “cloud art.”

I wrote about the phenomenon that creates these features in an earlier post, with an accompanying explanatory animation. You can find it here.

I also found this striking pattern of clouds above the Indian Ocean just west of Australia, captured by the same satellite on the same day:

Striking cloud patterns formed in the Indian Ocean just west of Australia on Nov. 7, 2013, as captured by NASA's Aqua satellite. (Image: NASA)

Striking cloud patterns formed in the Indian Ocean just west of Australia on Nov. 7, 2013, as captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite. (Image: NASA)

Lastly, I should mention that I brought both images into my Aperture program to adjust a few parameters. Mostly, I upped the contrast of the midtones to help the white clouds pop against the darker colors of the oceans.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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