'Hokusai' Phenomenon

Someone passes,
And while I wonder
if it is he,
The midnight moon
is covered with clouds.
Murasaki Shikibu (974-1031), translation by D. Russell
Structure Description
Global Occurrence
Observation Diagrams

Home > Contents > 'Hokusai' Phenomenon - Description

"Convective Cells"
"Hokusai" Phenomenon (HP)

The pictures, where the phenomenon can be observed, remind me of some works of famous Japanese painter K.Hokusai (Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)). Therefore the phenomenon was tentatively called after his name.

The vertical layers with irregular arc-like edges are characteristic for this phenomenon.

It can be assumed that the phenomenon is connected with cold air currents sinking downward.
Above maritime stratokumulus clouds a cold inversion layer lies. The cold air sinks from this layer downward through the underlying borders between convective close cells and produces sharp picturesque "Hokusai" edges.

Although the vertical coexisted layers have often different albedo, its cloud top height (within the given methods accuracy and device resolution) remains the same.

This phenomenon can be rarely observed over polar seas.