Sunday Science Tidbit; Fujiwhara Effect & Fibonacci Spiral

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In this week’s Sunday Science Tidbit we take a look at the weather in a different way… the Fujiwhara Effect and the Fibonacci Spiral.

You’ve heard me talk time and time again that the atmosphere is like a fluid. There are different swirls, currents, interactions, and more. Let’s talk about two cool occurrences!

Japanese meteorologist Dr. Fujiwhara discovered the Fujiwhara Effect by studying water swirls and vorticies back in the 1920’s. The Fujiwhara Effect describes the interaction between two vorticies, like hurricanes or mid latitude cyclones, that are close to each other in proximity, about 750 miles apart or less. The two systems will rotate around each other in a counter-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere. They will continue to rotate around one another until an outside system, like fronts or pressures, disturb the flow or until the two systems merge together.

Another cool phenomenon is the Fibonacci Spiral. First let’s talk about the Fibonacci sequence… it’s a pattern of numbers where you add the previous two numbers to get the next number. See example of pattern below.

Using the Fibonacci Sequence of numbers for size, we can make the Fibonacci Spiral made of quarter circles and squares.

So how does this occur in real life?

Here’s a look at a winter storm from February of this year. See the Fibonacci Spiral?

It also occurs naturally from sunflowers, shells, and pinecones to galaxies!!

~ Meteorologist Candice Boling

{Information courtesy of noaa.gov, nws.gov, nasa.gov}


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