Waves of Fog

January 29, 2011

Photographer: Monika Landy-Gyebnar
Summary Author: Monika Landy-Gyebnar

The photo above showing layers of undulating clouds was taken during the partial solar eclipse earlier this month as observed from near Úrkút, Hungary. Almost all of Hungary was immersed in a soupy fog the morning of the eclipse (January 4, 2011) with only the highest mountaintops free of clouds. This picture was snapped from the summit of Kab Mountain in western Hungary. I had hoped to photograph the eclipse but while looking for a good vantage point to do so I couldn't help but notice the fog creeping upslope, closer and closer. Suddenly, its long fingers were crawling through the forest, touching the trees one by one and then swallowing them. It was beautiful and amazing to see and it reminded me of the living ocean in the science fiction novel "Solaris." From my perch, the waves of fog draping the distance ridges looked like sea serpents.

The wavy structure of the fog is perhaps related to Kelvin-Helmholtz instability clouds, which tend to form because of wind shear. At the time the fog layers were forming, a gentle southern wind was blowing along the ridges, but dense, colder air was sandwiched in the valleys below. This same remarkable wavy pattern appeared and disappeared three separate times.

Photo details: Sony Alpha A350 camera; 70-300 mm Sigma lens; 135mm focal length; ISO 100; F4.5; 1/500 second exposure.