Monday, June 17, 2013

Pyrocumulus Cloud Spotted from Space

A pyrocumulus cloud formed over the Silver Fire in New Mexico on June 12, 2013.


A wildfire has been raging across southwestern New Mexico all week and a NASA satellite has captured an image of a so-called pyrocumulus cloud towering above the smoke.

Pyrocumulus clouds are associated with fires or volcanic activity and they form when intense heat pushes air high into the atmosphere. The cloud that took shape this week over the fire east of Silver City, N.M., stretched between 6 and 7 miles (10 and 11 kilometers) high with top temperatures about 20 degrees Celsius (36 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than other nearby clouds, according to NASA's Earth Observatory.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA's Aqua satellite snapped an image of the cloud on Wednesday (June 12).

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