The most unusual clouds in the world – they appeared only in the 20th century

Right now, a NASA science satellite called Terra (EOS AM-1) is flying in sun-synchronous orbit of the Earth. It was launched into the skies in 1999 and its main mission is to monitor the environment and climate change. On board there are five instruments that are capable of taking high-resolution photographs of our planet. Data from this satellite helps scientists monitor the spread of pollution around the world. Recently, scientists noticed something strange in one of the images. Clouds with perfectly round holes have formed over the west coast of the US state of Florida. These holes are so huge that they are clearly visible from space. One might think that this is some kind of unexplained anomaly or a new natural phenomenon. But scientists already have a completely logical explanation for this.

The most unusual clouds in the world - they appeared only in the 20th century. The Terra satellite recorded a strange phenomenon on Earth, which has already been explained. Photo.

The Terra satellite recorded a strange phenomenon on Earth, which has already been explained

Interesting fact: the name of the satellite “Terra” is associated with the Latin name of the planet Earth. It flies around the Earth in such a way that it passes over a specific place at the same time of day each time. This is convenient for photographing the Earth because the light from the Sun is always the same, and it is easy to compare photos taken on different days.

The most unusual and rare clouds

According to the scientific publication Science Alert, this is not the first time that scientists have encountered this unusual phenomenon. Back in the 1940s, they had already discovered clouds that they seemed to have walked through with a hole punch. They are known as hollow clouds or kavums.

The most unusual and rare clouds. A cloud with a hole in the middle. Photo.

Cloud with a hole in the middle

In the mid-20th century and even later, many people perceived this phenomenon as evidence of the existence of aliens. This was due to the fact that the holey clouds on the surface of the Earth seemed to have formed due to the landing of a flying saucer. It goes without saying that these formations have nothing in common with alien civilizations.

Read also:Why are we looking for aliens without even having hints of their existence

How holey clouds are formed

But with people, they do. For many years, scientists have tried to explain the cause of hollow clouds, and this was only achieved in the 2010s. As it turned out, they appear as a result of aviation flights. For millions of years, this phenomenon did not exist – people began to notice holey clouds only after the invention of airplanes.

Research has shown that mysterious holes form in altocumulus clouds, which are located at an altitude of 2 to 6 kilometers. They consist of drops of water, and when a plane flies through them, they turn into pieces of ice. The density of the clouds decreases sharply, and large, round holes form in them.

How holey clouds form. Kavum clouds from space. Photo.

Kavum clouds from space

Unusual clouds formed over Florida on January 30, 2024. It is believed that they appeared due to the numerous flights from the Miami airport – thousands of planes take off from there every day. They are formed only under certain weather conditions and the flight angle of the aircraft. So this phenomenon cannot be seen as often as one might think. But residents of places where airports are located should admire the clouds more often – the likelihood of seeing kavums is small, but it exists.

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What traces do airplanes leave behind

During flights, planes not only make holes in the clouds. They can also cause other unusual phenomena. For example, they are often followed by condensation trails, which form after gas emissions from engines come into contact with cold air at high altitudes. Also, “St. Elmo’s lights” may appear on the surface of aircraft – during flight through the clouds, static electricity appears, which looks like luminous points on the antennas and wings of the aircraft.

What traces do planes leave behind? The trace of an airplane in the air. Photo.

The trace of an airplane in the air

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Recently, scientists have revealed another secret of nature related to clouds. During solar eclipses, they often dissipate, and lovers of astronomy and simply rare phenomena get the opportunity to admire the short moment when the Sun is covered by the Moon. Scientists have been monitoring this phenomenon for a long time and found that the clouds disappear already at the moment when the solar disk overlaps by 15%. And they don't appear until the solar eclipse is over. If you want to find out what interesting things scientists have found out, read our material “Why clouds dissipate during a solar eclipse – the mystery has finally been revealed.”