Fuck Yeah Fluid Dynamics

Celebrating the physics of all that flows. Ask a question, submit a post idea or send an email. You can also follow FYFD on Twitter and Google+. FYFD is written by Nicole Sharp, PhD.

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Posts tagged "clouds"

Lenticular clouds, like the one shown above, often attract attention due to their unusual shape. These stationary, lens-shaped clouds can form near mountains and other topography that force air to travel up and over an obstacle. This causes a series of atmospheric gravity waves, like ripples in the sky. If the temperature at the wave crest drops below the dew point, then moisture condenses into a cloud. As the air continues on into a warmer trough, the droplets can evaporate again, leaving a stationary lenticular cloud over the crest. This particular lenticular cloud was captured by Michael Studinger during Operation IceBridge in Antarctica. The line of ice in the foreground is a pressure ridge of sea ice formed when ice floes collided. (Photo credit: M. Studinger; via NASA Earth Observatory)

Roll clouds stretch like a long horizontal tube, spinning as they process across the sky. This class of arcus cloud is relatively rare but occasionally forms in areas where cool air is sinking, along the downdraft of an oncoming storm or in coastal regions as a result of sea breezes. The cooler, sinking air displaces warmer, moist air to higher altitudes where the moisture condenses into a cloud. Winds then roll the cloud parallel to the horizon. Roll clouds are a form of soliton, a solitary wave with a single crest that moves without changing its shape or velocity; this is why the cloud appears so regular as it moves across the sky. These clouds are sometimes also called Morning Glory clouds and form regularly off the coast of Queensland, Australia around October. (Video credit: T. and B. Mask)

A reminder, for those attending the APS DFD conference this weekend: my FYFD talk will be Sunday evening at 5:37pm in Rm 306/307. I will be discussing, among other things, the results of July’s reader survey and science communication.

There were so many good fluids links this week that I decided for an off-week fluids round-up. Here we go!

(Video credit: #5facts/Sesame Street)

Fluids round-up time! Here are your latest fluids links to check out:

(Photo credit: G. Pretor-Pinney)

Fluids round-up time! Here are our latest fluidsy links from around the web:

(Photo credit: T. Thai)

Reminder: This weekend is your final chance to take the reader survey! Thank you to everyone who has taken a couple minutes to share their thoughts.

Photographer Mike Olbinski has captured a spectacular timelapse of a supercell thunderstorm over the plains of Texas. Supercells are characterized by a strong, rotating updraft known as a mesocyclone, seen clearly in the video. These storms are commonly isolated occurrences, forming when horizontal vorticity in the form of wind shear is redirected upwards by an updraft. Such a strong updraft is typically created by a capping inversion, a situation where a layer of warmer air traps the colder air beneath it. (This is why one sees a distinctive cut-off at the top of some clouds.) As warm air rises from the surface, either the air above the cap will cool or the air below the cap will warm. Either situation results in an instability with cooler air on top of warmer air, providing a catalyst for the kind of dramatic weather seen here. (Video credit: M. Olbinski; via io9)

We’ve touched a couple times on Saturnian storms, but this NASA video gives a great overview of the Great White Spot, a storm that appeared in late 2010. Gauging the fluid dynamics of gas giants like Saturn and Jupiter is difficult, in large part because we can see only the outermost portion of the atmosphere. Numerous theories and models have been suggested to explain features and dynamics that we observe, but much of the overall behavior remains a subject of debate among planetary scientists. (Video credit: NASA Goddard)

These wave-like Kelvin-Helmholtz clouds can form due to shear between different layers of air in the atmosphere. When one region of air has a higher velocity than the other, their interface forms a shear layer, which can break down in this wavy pattern. In this case, the lower layer of air was moist enough to form condensation and clouds, making the pattern visible to the naked eye. (Photo credit: Gene Hart; via Flow Visualization)

Lenticular clouds, such as the one shown above, are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form over a mountain or range of mountains. Moist air is deflected up over the mountain, and, if the temperature at higher altitudes is below that of the dew point, the water vapor in the air can condense, forming a cloud that sits over the peak of the mountain. Once the air traverses the mountain and reaches warmer, lower altitudes on the far side, it will often transition back to a gaseous state. Lenticular clouds are sometimes also called UFO clouds, due to their distinctive shape and the way they seem to hover over a peak. (Photo credit: James Woodcock, Billings Gazette via Associated Press)

Nothing quite compares to the beauty of fluid dynamics on astronomical scales. What you see here are raw photographs of recent storms at Saturn's north pole. The recent change in Saturnian seasons has afforded Cassini a sunlit view of the northern pole, which had previously lain in darkness. A roiling vortex filled with clouds being twisted and sheared was revealed near the center of its famed polar hexagon. (Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute; submitted by J. Shoer)