Anvil Tops of Thunderstorms
 

high resolution image

Sharp air mass boundaries, such as this one photographed by astronauts on board the Space Shuttle on June 17 2002, often are the focus of development for severe thunderstorms. This storm formed in the late afternoon over Eastern China. The sunlit anvil tops of thunderstorms here are estimated to be in excess of 60,000 feet (18,300 m) where icy cirrus clouds form near the top of the troposphere. The distribution and impact of such high clouds are a significant challenge to scientists modeling the Earth’s energy budget and climate.

The crew of the International Space Station is attempting to acquire such imagery over Florida this summer in support of a large, multi-agency experiment CRYSTAL - FACE (Cirrus Regional Study of Tropical Anvils and Cirrus Layers - Florida Area Cirrus Experiment). This experiment is designed to collect measurements of clouds that will help improve climate models. Such photos have the potential to provide profound, synoptic visuals for use in describing and interpreting these measurements. More information on CRYSTAL ? FACE as well as other images of the atmosphere are available at http://cloud1.arc.nasa.gov/crystalface/

Astronaut photograph STS111-E-05451 was provided by the Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center. Additional images taken by astronauts and cosmonauts can be viewed at the NASA-JSC Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth.

Anvil Tops of Thunderstorms

August 25, 2002
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