Kelvin-Helmholtz instability cloud structures

Date:28 August 2014 Tags:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thomas Otto Whitehead captured this image of Kelvin-Helmholtz instability cloud structures forming continuously over the interior of Marion Island for about 10 minutes until they disappeared. The phenomenon – which has even been observed in Saturn’s bands and Jupiter’s Red Spot – is created by a turbulence of two air layers lying close to each other that move with different speed and/or direction. Kelvin-Helmholtz instability wave-like clouds are particularly rare and are considered by cloud enthusiasts as the Holy Grail.

Whitehead’s image came first in the “Science in Action” category in the 2013 Southern African Science Lens (SA Science Lens) photography competition.

Organised and sponsored by the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), the SA Science Lens competition has been going since 2002. From portraying science in our everyday lives or showing something not visible to the naked eye, to simply showing the beauty of science – many striking images have come out of the now biennial competition.

Credit: Thomas Otto Whitehead | SA Science Lens