Midwest Lakes Policy Center

Foam, Langmuir Streaks

Check out your lake to see if you can notice Langmuir streaks.

On a windy day, lines of foam or debris may form along the length of a lake, reservoir, or river. These lines are called windrows or Langmuir streaks, after the first person to study the phenomenon. Irving Langmuir noticed patterns of floating seaweed when crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1938. Intrigued, he conducted experiments in a lake and discovered that wind can cause water to circulate in a pattern that makes material collect in lines on the surface. The lines are roughly parallel to the wind direction, and the windier it is, the further apart the lines.

October 26, 2005 7:12 AM | Category: Chemicals

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