The satellite photo, captured last week by Australian meteorology site Weatherzone, illustrates air rippling away from land and over the ocean. Rows of curved white lines are seen to emerge, resembling ripples in disturbed water. The thin white bands are reportedly clouds forming on the crests of atmospheric gravity waves.
Gravity waves appear following atmospheric disturbances – in this case, storms in the area produced cold air.
This air is denser than the warm air over land, Weatherzone reported.
Interaction between cool and warm air is thought to have agitated the atmosphere and the resulting ripples are gravity’s way of restoring this lost equilibrium.
Gravity waves, unlike gravitational waves – the theoretical ripples in space-time proposed by Einstein’s theory of general relativity — are a physical phenomenon.
When that happens, the waves’ rippling lines are visible to satellites — such as Japan’s Himawari-8 geostationary weather satellite, which captured the Weatherzone photos.
A large, brownish dust plume carried over the ocean from the Australian coast was also visible in the satellite images.
This phenomena makes the ripples even easier to spot, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.