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Ship Tracks Make Asterisk Pattern in Clouds Off California Coast, USA

35.1N 124.2W

August 18th, 2010 Category: Clouds, Image of the day

USA - August 29th, 2010

USA - August 29th, 2010

The western coast of the United States of America, parallel to California’s Great Central Valley, is lined by thick white clouds. This is a common occurrence in the area due to a combination of atmospheric and oceanographic conditions.

Visible in the lower half of the image are a series of lines in those clouds, creating an almost asterisk-like shape. These long, linear cloud formations are known as ship tracks, since they form when water molecules gather around the exhaust released into the air by passing ships. The phenomenon is similar to that of condensation trails in the air from passing jets.

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