The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES-West) captured this series of 24 hourly images of ship tracks amid natural marine clouds southwest of Vancouver Island on January 15, 2013. 


Animation courtesy of the NASA-NOAA GOES Project Science Team

Airborne particles from ship exhaust lead to cloud formation. These clouds appear brighter than surrounding clouds because the exhaust particles result in water being distributed over more and smaller droplets. This means their combined area is increased making a more reflective cloud, meaning a higher albedo.

Read more:

Clouds & Radiation

Aerosols: tiny particles, big impact

DIY data analysis:

NEO Analysis - Reflections on the blue planet - exploring remote sensing

Educational Resource:

Albedo Activity - exploring remote sensing

Additional Visualizations:

Ice Albedo: bright white reflects light

This world is black and white