Strong northerly winds blew across ice-bound Greenland in early April, 2013, creating stunning patterns of clouds over the Greenland Sea. As cold, dry winds encounter moist, relatively warmer air, clouds quickly form. When the winds are strong, the clouds align in rows parallel to the wind, forming “cloud streets” in the skies. Where the wind swirls, the clouds follow, with the rows coalescing into a bank in quieter air.
In the southern area, the tall peaks of mountainous Jan Mayen Island form an obstruction to the blowing wind, causing the air to flow in turbulent swirls as it passes the island. The turbulent flow created a string of spiraling eddies, known as on Karman vortices, to be written in the clouds on the lee side of Jan Mayen.
In the west, Greenland is covered with snow and ice, while fast sea ice clings to the coastline. Crevices appear in the coastal ice and, towards the south and further from the coast, thinner ice forms delicate-appearing frosty filigrees over the dark waters.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured this true-color image at 12:30 UTC (1:30 p.m. local time in Jan Mayen) on April 1, 2013.