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Ship Tracks South of Alaska

March 17th, 2009 Category: Snapshots

Ship tracks in Pacific Ocean - March 15th, 2009

Ship tracks in Pacific Ocean - March 15th, 2009

Although they seem like condensation trails from passing airplanes, these criss-crossed lines over the Pacific Ocean, south of Alaska, are actually from ships.

Such streaks are called ship tracks.  Ship tracks are clouds that form around the exhaust released by ships into the still ocean air.

Water molecules collect around the tiny particles (aerosols) from exhaust to form a cloud seed. More and more water accumulates on the seed until a visible cloud is formed.

In the case of ship tracks, the cloud seeds are stretched over a long, narrow path where the wind has blown the ship’s exhaust, so the resulting clouds resemble long strings over the ocean.

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