A lenticular cloud over the Tararua Range mountains, New Zealand.

A cloud whose formation is influenced by winds flowing over mountains.

Detailed Description

Clouds in the atmosphere - The water cycle

This picture shows a lenticular cloud over the Tararua Range mountains, North Island, New Zealand. What's happening above those mountains? Several clouds are stacked up into one striking lenticular cloud. Normally, air moves much more horizontally than it does vertically. Sometimes, however, such as when wind comes off of a mountain or a hill, relatively strong vertical oscillations take place as the air stabilizes. The dry air at the top of an oscillation may be quite stratified in moisture content, and hence forms clouds at each layer where the air saturates with moisture. The result can be a lenticular cloud with a strongly layered appearance.

Components of the water cycle:
Atmosphere    Condensation    Evaporation    Evapotranspiration    Groundwater flow    Groundwater storage    Ice and snow    Infiltration    Lakes and freshwater    Oceans    Precipitation    Snowmelt    Springs    Streamflow    Sublimation    Surface runoff


Image Dimensions: 557 x 395

Location Taken: US