Von Kármán Vortices Form Off Guadalupe Island



  • von-karman-vortex.jpg

    A spiraling cloud pattern, known as a von Kármán vortex, formed off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula on May 13, 2019. The atmospheric phenomenon seen here by NOAA-20 was named after Theodore von Kármán, a Hungarian-American aerospace engineer who co-founded NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

    Von Kármán vortices typically form when the prevailing wind is diverted by elevated land features such as islands, mountaintops or volcanoes. These topographic features disrupt the flow of the air, and the result is beautiful spiral patterns in the clouds. In this case, the von Kármán vortices formed off the southeast coast of Guadalupe Island, which is located about 150 miles off the west coast of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.

    This image was created by combining three of the high resolution thermal and visible channels from the NOAA-20 satellite's VIIRS sensor. The combination of these channels enhances the contrast between clouds, water, and land surfaces, with the ocean appearing black in this imagery.

    Credits: NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory



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