April 6, 2014 - Cloud streets in the Labrador Sea

Cloud streets in the Labrador Sea

On March 26, 2014, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite captured a beautiful true-color image of cloud streets over the Labrador Sea.

Ice-covered Greenland lies in the northeast, while snow-covered Canada lies in the southwest. A glimpse of Baffin Island can be seen n the northwest. Thin layers of fast ice cling to the Canadian coastline, thinning towards the south where delicate-appearing ice swirls can be seen. Near Baffin Island the heavy sea ice can be seen divided and drifting in chunks.

Between the frozen lands, and over the blue Labrador Sea, large bands of cumulus clouds lay in parallel rows, and roughly parallel to the coastlines. These rows, known as cloud streets, align with the prevailing winter wind. Where the winds change - just off the tip of Greenland, for example - the cloud streets arch and begin to lose their tightly parallel structure.

Clouds streets form when low-level winds blow cold air over warmer waters, particularly when a warmer layer of air lies above both. Although the waters of the Labrador Sea are icy cold, the wind which blows across the frozen land and then out to sea must be even more frigid.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 3/16/2014
Resolutions: 1km ( B), 500m ( B), 250m ( B)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC