Don’t worry despite the cold storms on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean this week, this isn’t a hurricane brewing over Antarctica.
This spiraling cloud formation is known as a lenticular cloud and forms when a wave of air crashes over a topographic barrier — in this case Mount Discovery, a volcano about 70 kilometers (44 miles) southwest of McMurdo station and east of Scott Base. As the air ascends, it forms atmospheric ripples, called gravity waves, which are the same type of waves you see when you drop a stone in a still pool of water.
The jutting slabs of ice in the foreground are a pressure ridge along the edge of the McMurdo ice shelf and the mountainous rift system that splits east Antarctica from west Antarctica.
The image was captured by Antarctic glacier scientist Michael Studinger during this year’s IceBridge Mission, which just finished its first survey of Antarctica’s glaciers using McMurdo Station as their base. Previous missions have flown from Punta Arenas, Chile.