Tsunami’s trek traced in the sky

Scientists photograph atmospheric ripples that followed the March tsunami across the Pacific

By Stephen Ornes, 16:44 PM July 6, 2011

The red and green glowing lights in this picture are “airglow” in the Earth’s ionosphere. (This photo was taken from a space shuttle, visible at left.) The March tsunami that wreaked havoc on Japan produced similar atmospheric, glowing ripples.

In March, an earthquake shook the seafloor 80 miles east of Japan. It released a fast and powerful wave, called a tsunami, which struck the island nation and caused death and destruction. The recovery could take years. Newspapers and websites carried images of the catastrophe caused by the tsunami.

Thousands of miles away, a team of scientists happened to catch tsunami-related images of a different kind. These photographs, taken by a camera in Hawaii, showed glowing ripples that moved acr...

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