ERS-2 image of Kona Coast, Big Island

Dr. Pierre Flament, an Oceanographer part of our Virtually Hawaii Team, describes the features in this image as follows:

"This image shows the ocean west of the Big Island. Over the ocean, the brightness of the image is a function of the wind speed. The very bright area on top of the image corresponds to the high winds emerging from the Alenuihaha channel. These are separated from the lower winds in the lee of the island by a so-called shear line, crossing the coast north of Kawaihae. In the lee, the winds are more variable and sometimes drop to near zero (black on the image). Surface slicks often associated with internal waves appear in those areas as narrow black lines; they are generally generated along the coastline and propagate away from it. The image has a resolution sufficient to show surface swell; spectucular cases of swell refraction, reflection and interference appear near the cost, especially north of the airport".

Copyright by P. Mouginis-Mark
Curator: Lori Glaze
Copyright © 1996
All Rights Reserved.