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"

Pyrocumulus clouds tower tall above a wildfire in these photos taken last week from an Oregon National Guard F-15C. Most cumulus clouds form when the sun-warmed surface heats air, causing it to rise and carry moisture upward where it condenses to form clouds. In pyrocumulus clouds, the driving heat is supplied by a forest fire or volcanic eruption. The hot, rising air carries smoke and soot particles upward, where they become nucleation sites for condensation. Pyrocumulus clouds can be especially turbulent, and the gusting winds they produce can exacerbate wildfires. In some cases, the clouds can even develop into a pyrocumulonimbus thunderstorm with rain and lightning.  (Photo credit: J. Haseltine; via NASA Earth Observatory)

The storm chasing group Basehunters captured this stunning timelapse of a supercell thunderstorm forming in Wyoming. This class of storm is characterized by the presence of a mesocyclone, seen here as a large, rotating cloud. These rotating features form when horizontal wind shear is redirected upright by an updraft. This requires a strong updraft, which is often formed by a capping inversion, where a layer of warm air traps colder air beneath it. Supercells can be very dangerous in their own right, releasing torrential rains and large hail, but they are also capable of spawning violent tornadoes. (Video credit: Basehunters; via Bad Astronomy; submitted by jshoer)

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)