A Hypnotizing Timelapse Captures An Atmospheric Standing Wave

Lenticular clouds are the visible manifestation of an atmospheric standing wave. This hypnotizing timelapse captures the clouds pulsing and reforming in a fixed location in space, mountains of clouds mirroring the mountains of rock in the landscape below.

Lenticular clouds form when moist air cools as it rises over a topographic obstruction (like a mountain), condensing into clouds. While the individual particles move in a constant current, the features of the wave remain fixed in space. The result is a visual standing wave, with water constantly condensing into clouds as the air rises to the wave crest, then evaporating back into vapour as the air drops down to the trough. The individual components are constantly in motion, but the locational features of the wave stand in place.

Filmed at the Mount Washington Observatory in New Hampshire on February 3, 2012, this stack of lenticular clouds echo layers of moist and dry air forced into waves by the mountain range below. The timelapse condenses time in a ratio of more than 10:1, collecting over ten minutes of footage into less than a minute to highlight the constant movement of the clouds forming and dissipating along the standing wave.

Share This Story

Get our `newsletter`


Ron Miller

Standing waves also occur in water. I've seen them and they can look very strange, often appearing as a stationary, dark, elongated hump. I can easily see where they may account for many Loch Ness Monster sightings.