Looking up at the sky to enjoy the diversity and beauty of clouds is a pastime as ancient as humanity itself. Yet only during the past century—thanks to the all the pioneering air navigators— we can look down on clouds from above.
While a top-down view of clouds has led to important advances in meteorology and atmospheric science, it has also produced something much more difficult to quantify—simple BEAUTY.
On May 20th 2015, the NASA satellite captured this view of several cloud vortices swirling downwind of the Canary Islands and Madeira. This type of vortices are called “Kármán vortex street”, which is a repeating pattern of swirling vortices caused by the unsteady separation of different type of fluids around blunt bodies. It is named after the engineer and fluid dynamicist Theodore von Kármán.
In this case, the unique flow occurs as winds rush past the tall peaks on the volcanic islands. As winds are diverted around these high areas, the disturbance in the flow propagates downstream in the form of vortices that alternate their direction of rotation.
After this scientific lecture… what a beautiful picture!!!