Friday, February 21, 2014

Wave Cloud

Looking south form University of Utah -- February 21, 2014
(c) kbkb

Ripples in water
The atmosphere is a fluid and can have waves. Wave clouds look like ripples in water that oscillate up and down.

Wave clouds are a sign that the atmosphere is stable, meaning air wants to stay at the level it's at. Sure enough, this morning's sounding shows the air is dry and stable.

The location of the clouds show where air is moving up, which cools the air and causes condensation. Cloud-free areas indicate descending air, which warming and evaporates the cloud.
For these waves to appear something must happen upstream to cause the air to oscillate up and down. The culprit here, as far as I can tell, is the mountains interacting with the west, north west wind.

The wave cloud shown a top evaporated within twenty minutes and now there are a bunch of contrails and cirrus clouds to the west.

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