Home > NASA > NASA Releases Spectacular Images of Mysterious ‘Hole Punch’ Clouds

NASA Releases Spectacular Images of Mysterious ‘Hole Punch’ Clouds

July 9, 2011

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© Source: NASA/handout.
For decades, the mystery behind “hole punch” clouds have puzzled scientists and on-lookers as they continue to witness giant, open spaces in otherwise continuous cloud cover.

For decades, the mystery behind “hole punch” clouds have puzzled scientists and on-lookers as they continue to witness giant, open spaces in otherwise continuous cloud cover.

However, a new research paper published recently in the journal Science has revealed that the main culprit behind this unusual phenomenon is airplane.

“It appears to be a rather widespread effect for aircraft to inadvertently cause some measureable amount of rain or snow as they fly through certain clouds,” stated lead author Andrew Heymsfield of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Co. “This is not necessarily enough precipitation to affect global climate, but it is likely to be noticeable around major airports in the midlatitudes.”

Many reports in the past have even connected this phenomenon with UFOs and rocket launches. But, no one has been able to shed substantial light on the “mechanism of formation the physics of the development, duration.”

Besides describing the physics of how planes form the holes in specific cloud types, the Science paper also looks at this “inadvertent” cloud seeding. The authors suggest that the effect is not large enough to have an impact on global climate, but that “regionally near major airports in midlatitudes during cool weather months it may lead to enhanced precipitation at the ground.”

The research was partly funded by NASA grants and NASA Langley Research Center cloud specialist Patrick Minnis was one of the co-authors on the paper.

Check out the amazing ‘Hole Punch’ clouds visuals released by NASA below:

© Source: NASA/handout.

© Source: NASA/handout.
  1. July 9, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I would say this is not a true hole punch cloud … I would consider that the image of the hole itself has been altered … or the whole image has been done in front of a blue screen … http://isis2012return.multiply.com/journal/item/2999/2999

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