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Low off Iceland

A beautifully-formed low-pressure system swirls off the southeastern coast of Greenland, illustrating the maxim that “nature abhors a vacuum.” The vacuum in this case would be a region of low atmospheric pressure. In order to fill this void, air from a nearby high-pressure system moves in, in this case bringing clouds along for the ride. And because this low-pressure system occurred in the Northern Hemisphere, the winds spun in toward the center of the low-pressure system in a counter-clockwise direction; a phenomenon known as the Coriolis force (in the Southern Hemisphere, the Coriolis force would be manifested in a clockwise direction of movement).

The clouds in the image resembled pulled cotton and lace as they spun in a lazy hurricane-like pattern. This huge system swirled over the Denmark Strait in between Greenland and Iceland. The image was taken by the Aqua MODIS instrument on September 4, 2003.

Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Published October 14, 2003
Data acquired September 4 - 4, 2003

Aqua > MODIS
Atmosphere > Atmospheric Phenomena > Hurricanes
Visible Earth