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Unraveling the Mystery of Cavum Clouds

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NASA’s Terra satellite recently encountered a fascinating spectacle over the Gulf of Mexico: clouds resembling giant punched-out holes in the sky. These mesmerizing cavum clouds, also known as hole-punch clouds or fallstreak holes, have intrigued observers for decades with their otherworldly appearance. Initially shrouded in mystery, these massive formations are now understood to be a result of human intervention, specifically when airplanes traverse through layers of mid-level altocumulus clouds containing supercooled droplets.

Studies conducted by NASA’s Langley Research Center have shed light on the physics behind cavum cloud formation, revealing that the angle at which planes pass through these cloud layers directly influences the size of the resulting holes. Surprisingly, any aircraft, from commercial jets to private planes, has the potential to create these celestial wonders. NASA’s Terra satellite captured striking images of a cluster of cavum clouds near Florida’s west coast earlier this year, showcasing the impact of human activities on Earth’s delicate ecosystem.

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