Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds Viewed from the Gulf of Maine

August 26, 2010


Photographers: Peter Stetson and John Stetson
Summary Authors: Peter Stetson and John Stetson

The photo above showing wavy, Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds over the Gulf of Maine was captured on August 21, 2010. My son, Peter, a graduate student in the Ecosystem Modeling Lab at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, recognized these curious clouds from his study of fluid dynamics as it pertains to internal waves in the ocean. In the atmosphere, Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds are caused by prominent wind shear. Their development seems to be favored when altocumulus lenticularis clouds are present. An example of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability can be viewed here.

Photo Details: Camera: Canon PowerShot SX120 IS; Focal Length: 18.1mm; Aperture: f/7.1; Exposure Time: 0.0006 s (1/1600); ISO equiv: 200.