NASA satellite captures photo of bizarre circle of clouds

Sometimes, nature just gives us the weird.

While clouds are an important topic of research for climatologists and meteorologists, sometimes the atmosphere churns up peculiar-looking cloud formations that are as notable for aesthetic reasons as they are for scientific ones.

That was the case in May when this circular swirl of clouds drifted over Lake Balkhash in eastern Kazakhstan. In fact, as a nearly perfect circle, it could serve as a worthy alternate “O” in our Reading the ABCs from Space image gallery.

download large image (9 MB, JPEG, 9479×9729)

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired the image at roughly 12:05 local time (06:05 Universal Time) on May 22, 2018, and the MODIS on Aqua acquired a similar image roughly two hours later.

Cyclonic wind flow drew the clouds into the circular pattern, which had a radius of roughly 200 kilometers (100 miles)—small enough that meteorologists would classify it as a mesoscale feature. In contrast, synoptic scale features have horizontal lengths greater than 1,000 kilometers, while microscale features have widths less than 1 kilometer.

While the MODIS sensors are affixed to polar-orbiting satellites and take an image of each part of Earth once per day, the Indian Space Research Organization operates a geostationary satellite—INSAT-3DR—that keeps its gaze fixed on this part of the world and captures new images every 26 minutes. Imagery from INSAT-3DR helps fill in the gaps before, after, and between the two MODIS images. The INSAT-3DR imagerysuggests that a few hours before Terra MODIS acquired the image, the circular feature was linked to an area of convection to the southwest over the western Tien Shan mountains.

via NASA Earth Observatory

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Phil Rae
May 28, 2018 11:21 pm

Somebody’s blowing smoke rings in Kazakhstan, it seems! That’s a mighty big puff! : ]

Reply to  Phil Rae
May 29, 2018 4:26 am

Gandalf lives!!

Reply to  Phil Rae
May 29, 2018 7:16 am

It’s worse that we thought.

johann wundersamer
Reply to  LdB
May 30, 2018 12:01 am

It’s worse than we thought.

Bryan A
Reply to  johann wundersamer
May 30, 2018 5:40 am

Swirling vortex of doom

Donald Kasper
May 28, 2018 11:38 pm

One might expect large vortices in the lee side of the Himalayas particularly during monsoon events with strong southerly flow.

Reply to  Donald Kasper
May 29, 2018 12:23 am

That’s a long way from the Himalaya or even the Karakorum.

May 28, 2018 11:55 pm

It seems to have some characteristics of a tight Jet Stream eddy. Fascinating!!!

Reply to  tomwys1
May 29, 2018 9:28 am

Or perhaps it’s the dreaded CHEMTRAILS!

Reply to  tomwys1
May 29, 2018 10:19 am

No, it’s the HAARP array!

May 29, 2018 12:52 am

Local water transport into the atmosphere.
Surface water evaporates, rises, and circles the source under a cut-off low. Trapped by the mountains to the south.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
May 29, 2018 1:16 am

A wider satellite imaging would have revealed a cloud formation to the distant left in the shape of a giant “C” and to the distant right a swirl of cloud with a little “2” – so now we know where all that extra “carbon” is lurking.
Clearly we are all doomed when even the atmosphere is sending us a message blah blah blah…

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
May 29, 2018 6:49 am

That would be signaling that has nothing to do with virtue.

See - owe to Rich
May 29, 2018 1:48 am

By the way, not all the white in that photograph is clouds. At the bottom left, bottom right, and due right, the fractal edges of whiteness are clearly snow on mountains indented by valleys. That doesn’t change the beauty of the cloud circle though.

Pierre DM
Reply to  See - owe to Rich
May 29, 2018 4:56 am

To much of that circle is snow on top of mountains. Unsure what we are really seeing.

David LM2
May 29, 2018 2:27 am

First it was the crops, and now the clouds.

john cheshire
May 29, 2018 2:31 am

It could also be a Q, so maybe God is trying to tell us something.

Reply to  john cheshire
May 29, 2018 6:52 am

That John DeLancie needs work?

David A Smith
May 29, 2018 3:08 am

It looks like a crater. There is even a puff of cloud in the middle that looks like a central rise.

Ron Long
May 29, 2018 3:35 am

The clouds appear to have counter-clockwise rotation and in the Northern Hemisphere with the wind at your back the low pressure is to your left, so the rotation is around a low-pressure center. Or Stonhenge II writ large.

May 29, 2018 4:11 am

CO2 driven and you know it….

May 29, 2018 4:53 am

Definitely the Omega symbol!
That is so utterly COOL!!!!

May 29, 2018 6:19 am

It is definitely a ‘ Q ‘!

GREG in Houston
May 29, 2018 7:55 am

First time in recorded history! Must be due to CO2!!

Barbara Skolaut
May 29, 2018 8:21 am

I’m not saying it’s awiens, but it’s awiens. 😉

Reply to  Barbara Skolaut
May 29, 2018 9:25 am

All right, Barbera, there was no alien. The flash of light you saw in the sky was not a UFO. Swamp gas from a weather balloon was trapped in a thermal pocket and reflected the light from Venus.
– K Men in Black

Walter Sobchak
May 29, 2018 8:29 am
May 29, 2018 11:30 am

It’s a CO2nado !

May 30, 2018 6:49 pm

NASA is censoring stuff again.
They purposely cut of Gaia’s full message. They photo-shopped the first and last ‘S’ out of the message.

If we don’t quit living soon we are all going to die.

June 1, 2018 9:48 am

As somebody mentioned before it is Jet Stream eddy. Living in Europe I noticed, that regular low pressure systems above north Jet Stream shifted south and are propagating to east above Eurazia landmass. It is bringing Hurricane like features above Mediterranean Sea and then to East. It was not like this before.

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