Monday, July 11, 2011

Punching Holes in the Sky

A hole punch cloud observed on August 17, 2008 near Linz, Austria. Credit: H. Raab

by Patrick Lynch - NASA's Earth Science News Team
Washington DC (SPX) Jul 12, 2011

Scientists, photographers and amateur cloud watchers have been looking up with wonderment and puzzlement at "hole punch" clouds for decades. Giant, open spaces appear in otherwise continuous cloud cover, presenting beautiful shapes but also an opportunity for scientific investigation.

A new paper published last week in Science inquires into how the holes get punched - airplanes are the culprit - and into the potential for the phenomenon's link to increased precipitation around major airports.

"It appears to be a rather widespread effect for aircraft to inadvertently cause some measureable amount of rain or snow as they fly through certain clouds," said lead author Andrew Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Co.
Article posted here

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