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Posted at 10:36 AM ET, 06/08/2012

A hole in the clouds


(NASA)
Cloud hole? Or toilet bowl? Whichever way you look at this NASA image, it’s quite striking.

It’s indeed a large clear region surrounded by clouds near Tasmania in the South Pacific. It was captured by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the Aqua satellite.

NASA’s gives this explanation:

This is a good visible example of how upper-level atmospheric features affect the lower atmosphere, because the cloud hole is right under the center of a strong area of high pressure. High pressure forces air down to the surface blocking cloud formation. In addition, the altocumulus clouds are rotating counter-clockwise around the hole, which in the southern hemisphere indicates high pressure.

By  |  10:36 AM ET, 06/08/2012

 
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