Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Air as a Fluid - Stunning Video of Marine Layer

By Brocken Inaglory (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0
or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)],
via Wikimedia Commons
You may have learned or heard that the atmosphere behaves as a fluid. If you have trouble imagining air as a fluid, this breathtaking time lapse video of the marine layer (see bottom of page) should put any
misconception to rest very quickly.

The marine layer is an air mass which develops over a large body of water such as the ocean or large lake. If you have ever lived on or visited the west coast you probably have heard this term. It is a common feature over the cold waters of the Pacific.

The marine layer is relatively shallow, and forms when a temperature inversion (a layer of air where the temperature increases with height) develops above the surface. The inversion can form by either warm air moving in aloft, or by the cooling effects of the ocean water. The latter is most common on the west coast where the air is modified by cold waters of the Pacific. The cooler air near the surface is more dense than the warmer air above and is trapped below the inversion. When the moisture content of the air is high enough, condensation results in fog and or low clouds. The height and strength of the inversion determines the depth of the layer and how long it may persist.

The marine layer can form well offshore and then move inland as a sea breeze develops. The lands warms faster than the water causing air to rise. Air moves in from the ocean (in this case) to replace it, advecting the marine layer into the coastal areas.

This amazing video was produced over a period of two years. Enjoy!

Adrift from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

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