Kelvin-Helmholtz Clouds Over Albuquerque, New Mexico

January 29, 2021

Photographer: Karen Roop 
Summary Authors: Karen Roop; Jim Foster

Shown above are Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds that I photographed while at a stoplight in Albuquerque, New Mexico on November 12, 2020. They reminded me of ocean waves or a DNA strand. Sometimes called fluctus or billow clouds, they result from Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities -- air in the layer containing the clouds is moving in a different direction and at a slower speed than the air in the layer just above the clouds. Though not uncommon, Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds usually only capture our attention when they're rather conspicuous, as they were on this mid-autumn day.

Photo Details: Camera: LG Electronics VS501; Software: Windows Photo Editor 10.0.10011.16384; Exposure Time: 0.0011s (1/942); Aperture: ƒ/2.2; ISO equivalent: 50; Focal Length: 3.7mm