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The low rain clouds known as marine stratocumulus are generally found off the west coast of continents along the subtropical belts, sometimes extending for thousands of kilometers over the oceans. They form amazingly organized systems. Satellite images of these cloud systems reveal a puzzling pattern: a nearly perfect grid of cloud cells with hexagonal shapes. Some parts of these cloud fields are formed of closed cells – which look, in images, like fluffy white beehives. Other areas of the fields contain open cells, in which the clouds concentrate at the edges of the cell boundaries. Such cloud systems can persist for many hours.
Dr. Ilan Koren's research is supported by the Yeda-Sela Center for Basic Research. Dr. Koren is the incumbent of the Benjamin H. Swig and Jack D. Weiler Career Development Chair in Perpetuity.