The first in a regular series of beautiful images of Earth
The MODIS instrument on a NASA satellite captured this image of eddies stirred into the Gulf Stream by Hurricane Earl. Florida is at the bottom left corner of the image, and the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and part of North Carolina are also visible.
In the image, from the blog of Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, red tones show sea surface temperatures in the middle-80s; blue tones are indicative of temperatures in the upper 70s. The Gulf Stream, a current of warm, salty water that flows from the Caribbean into the North Atlantic, shows up as the arcing streak of red just off the coast. The little yellow hurricane symbols show the path Earl took as it swept by on September 2 and 3, 2010.
As Earl went by, it whipped the surface waters of the Atlantic, creating the looping features visible toward the top of the image. These are huge eddies in the Gulf Stream.
Hurricane Earl was born off the coast of Africa. Feeding off very high sea surface temperatures, it eventually strengthened into a powerful Category 4 hurricane, cruising by the Leeward Islands and the Bahamas and then sweeping north toward the Carolinas. Earl then went on to become the first tropical cyclone to threaten New England since 1991, but luckily it just brushed the coast. On September 4 it made landfall in Nova Scotia, and one day later, it dissipated.
For a before and after view of Hurricane Earl’s impact on the Gulf Stream, please click here to go to the CIMSS Web site (where you’ll also find an incredible array of other meteorological remote sensing imagery, much of it quite beautiful).
Below is a broader view of the Gulf Stream, also from the MODIS instrument (acquired at a different time), showing its course from North Carolina at lower left past the Northeast. (Cape Cod is visible at the top-center of the image.) The image was originally posted by the SEOS Project.