May 16, 2005
The surrealistic photo above showing an atomic-like cloud formation was taken on February 22, 2005 from Davenport, California. This cloud is a remnant thundercloud formed just inland from the Pacific ocean. The flattened portion of the top of the cloud is the typical "anvil head," associated with mature thunderstorms that reach the tropopause -- top of the troposphere (boundary between the troposphere and the stratosphere). Because of the strong temperature inversion present at the tropopause, building clouds tend to move laterally along this boundary. See also the Earth Science Picture of the Day for June 16, 2004.
James R. Johnson (photographer's brother) of the National Weather Service in Dodge City, Kansas, helped with the abbreviated explantion above.Related Links: