Wikipedia shows an example Morning Glory roll cloud,
and briefly describes the landform and meteorological causes, but states

The Morning Glory cloud is not clearly understood because their rarity means they have little significance in terms of rainfall or climate

Question: Is there any definitive physical theory as to how these meteorological phenomena form?

  • $\begingroup$ The first paragraph in the section following your cited line suggests at least one method by which these clouds can form. But given that the paragraphs following that one suggest that there are other methods by which it can form, it does not seem that there is a definitive theory. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 18 '14 at 14:50
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos well, it means that Wikipedia does not have a definitive theory reported, not necessarily that there is no new research. $\endgroup$ – user36538 Jan 18 '14 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ This is true. It's also true that meteorology is not my field, I just read the wiki link and responded with my first thoughts. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Jan 18 '14 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ Have to say that I'm unsure about whether to tag this everyday-life. I mean, on the one hand, it's basically asking about something mostly observed by non-physicists in non-scientific settings, but it also feels strange to call it "everyday". $\endgroup$ – Nat Jun 15 '18 at 18:38

It seems that these clouds are in fact reasonably well understood. Roger Smith, who seems to be something of an expert on these clouds, has several papers discussing the physics of Morning Glory clouds, many of which are linked from his "list of publications" page and can be viewed for free.

This paper seems to be particularly good. I am not a meteorologist, either, but from what I have read they appear to be solitary waves (a.k.a., solitons) which are travelling in a sort of atmospheric waveguide. I am sorry I can't give you a better answer than that; please do look at the linked references.

  • $\begingroup$ That paper is perfect, I agree that paper is particular good and explains the phenomena very well. Am happy to award the bounty to your answer. $\endgroup$ – user36538 Jan 30 '14 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ Your link to the paper is now broken. $\endgroup$ – Ruslan Jun 9 '18 at 20:42
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I updated the link. In case it breaks again, here is the article's DOI: 10.1016/0012-8252(88)90069-4 $\endgroup$ – Scott Griffiths Jun 15 '18 at 18:30

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