Extratropical Cyclone in the Southern Ocean

Extratropical Cyclone in the Southern Ocean

These images from the Multi-angle Imaging SpectroRadiometer (MISR) portray an occluded extratropical cyclone situated in the Southern Ocean, about 650 kilometers south of the Eyre Peninsula, South Australia.

The left-hand image, a true-color view from MISR’s nadir (vertical-viewing) camera, shows clouds just south of the Yorke Peninsula and the Murray-Darling river basin in Australia. Retrieved cloud-tracked wind velocities are indicated by the superimposed arrows. The image on the right displays cloud-top heights. Areas where cloud heights could not be retrieved are shown in black. Both the wind vectors and the cloud heights were derived using data from multiple MISR cameras within automated computer processing algorithms. The stereoscopic algorithms used to generate these results are still being refined, and future versions of these products may show modest changes.

Extratropical cyclones are the dominant weather system at midlatitudes, and the term is used generically for regional low-pressure systems in the mid- to high-latitudes. In the southern hemisphere, cyclonic rotation is clockwise. These storms obtain their energy from temperature differences between air masses on either side of warm and cold fronts, and their characteristic pattern is of warm and cold fronts radiating out from a migrating low pressure center which forms, deepens, and dissipates as the fronts fold and collapse on each other. The center of this cyclone has started to decay, with the band of cloud to the south most likely representing the main front that was originally connected with the cyclonic circulation.

These views were acquired on October 11, 2001, and the large view represents an area of about 380 kilometers x 1900 kilometers.

Image courtesy NASA/GSFC/LaRC/JPL, MISR Team.