Daniel Bateman: Best of Web 2016

Daniel Bateman: Best of Web 2016

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The above image shows a the formation of a von Karman vortex street behind the Isla Socorro, a volcanic island in the Pacific. The image was captured in natural color on May 22, 2013 by MODIS (Moderate Resolution Image Spectrodiometer) on NASA’s Aqua satellite. A von Karman vortex street is a repeating pattern of vorticies shed off of a blunt body at relativly low Reynolds numbers. The image shows the vorticies forming,  advecting downstream and interacting, and beginning to dissipate.

I find the image striking for two reasons. Firstly, von Karman vorticies are distinct and organized, unlike many flows where wakes are turbulent and chaotic. Second is the scale of the image. The effect shown can be demonstrated in wind tunnels, and is taken into account when designing structures such as smoke stacks and skyscrapers, but the image shows the effect on a truly massive scale. The image, being taken from space and shown through the flow interacting with the clouds shows the flow in a way that can rarely if ever be observed by a person on the ground.


Photo Credit:  Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE/EOSDIS MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

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4 Comments. Leave new

  • Yadira Valadez
    Sep 2, 2016 10:37

    Third Place. I love that this captures a natural occurring pattern versus a random event.

  • Michael Lloyd
    Sep 2, 2016 10:35

    Third Place: This reminds me of the water bug flows we saw in class, but it’s cool that this phenomenon is caused in the air and evident in these clouds. I’ve never witnessed these before. So cool!

  • Zachary Cymanski
    Sep 2, 2016 09:16

    Third Place. Earth does some mind blowing things that we look over day. This image perfectly captures that even in an instability there can be a uniform pattern. What truly amazes me in the scale this takes place, something that is recreated in a scientific lab is something but when its on this scale just makes you step back and really think. Great photo.

  • Joseph Straccia
    Sep 1, 2016 18:01

    Second place. Nice submission Dan. I agree the occurrence of the von Karman vortex street instability on such a large scale always amazes me when I see photos like this. The extreme scalability of fluid dynamics is fascinating. The fact that the earth develops a massive boundary layer every day blows my mind.


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