Undulatus Asperatus over the Sonoran Desert

In the battle between buoyancy and gravity, weather geeks win.

Wave-like clouds in the atmosphere can look as ominous as they are stunning. These are called undulatus asperatus clouds and pose no threat. Believe it or not, undulatus asperatus are not technically an official cloud type. They are still under consideration by the World Meteorological Organization to become an official cloud.

Here’s how undulatus asperatus form. Unstable, rising air combines with wind shear to create what’s called a gravity wave. Much like the ocean, low clouds caught in this flow creates wavy structures. Undulatus asperatus clouds are also a indicator of turbulence; a visible tip-off to pilots and aviation officials to prepare flight plans with caution.

Below is a time-lapse of these undulatus asperatus clouds, captured by Alex Schueth in Nebraska back in 2014. Mesmerizing to say the least.



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