Steaming Fog

Steaming fog occurs at very high altitudes oversea areas such as around Iceland, Greenland, and Norway. It is similar to advection fog in that the air mass is moving but in this case, it is a cold moist air mass passing over a warmer sea.

Normally this would lead to convection and the formation of cumuliform cloud. However, in this case, the air is too cold and stable for sufficient lifting to occur. Instead, the small amount of lifting and evaporation from the sea leads to saturation and fog formation.

At such high latitudes the water content is likely to be ice crystals giving the fog a white appearance which is the reason for its nickname of Arctic Sea Smoke.

The fog can be persistent and up to 500 feet thick – may drift inland. Will be dispersed by an increase in wind speed or change of direction. Usually only significant in Arctic regions, but the ‘steam’ may be seen at any latitude when cold air moves over a wet surface. 

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