Polar low and von Karman vortices

Check out the incredible detail in this image, downloaded from NASA’s MODIS Rapid Response System. The island at the top is Spitsbergen, the biggest island in the Svalbard achipelago. South of it there’s a polar low. It’s also cool to see the wake to the west of Svalbard. There’s probably very weak winds in that area, but there’s a strong tip jet around Spitsbergen’s south cape. I sailed through this jet when I was onboard a coast guard icebreaker in 2008. Standing on the bridge, I could see that the wind speed increased rapidly from 22 knots to 44 knots inside the narrow jet, and then it dropped down to 22 again as we sailed out of it.

Near the bottom of the image, the small island of Jan Mayen is seen, and downstream of it, some amazing von Kármán vortices are very evident. I zoomed in on these vortices here:

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