What are those fluffy white things high above your head? They are clouds, visible masses of condensed water vapor in the atmosphere. We will explain below how clouds form and the different types of clouds.
How Clouds Form
- Clouds from when water vapor in the air condenses to form liquid water or ice crystals.
*Dew point- The temperature at which condensation begins.
>If dew point is above freezing, the water vapor forms water droplets.
>If dew point is below freezing, water vapor may change directly into ice crystals.
- For water vapor to condense, tiny particles must be present so the water has a surface on which to condense.
Types of Clouds
Scientists classify clouds into three main types based on their shape: Cirrus, Cumulus, and Stratus. Clouds are further classified by their altitude. Also, each type of cloud is associated with different types of weather.
- Cirrus- Wispy, feathery clouds made of ice crystals that form at high levels.
- Cirrus clouds usually predict fair to pleasant weather
- When you see Cirrus clouds, it usually indicates that a change in weather will occur in the next 24 hours.
- Other types of Cirrus clouds are Cirrostratus and Cirrocumulus.
- Cumulus- Fluffy, white clouds, usually with flat bottoms, that look like rounded piles of cotton.
- Cumulus clouds form at low levels.
- Cumulus clouds are very common on sunny days.
- Another type of Cumulus clouds are Cumulonimbus.
- Stratus- Clouds that form in flat layers and often cover most of the sky.
- Stratus clouds are usually a grayish color.
- Stratus clouds kinda resemble fog that doesn't reach the ground.
- Light mist or drizzle most often falls from these clouds.
- Other types of Stratus clouds are Nimbostratus and Stratocumulus.
There are two other types of clouds that do not fall into any of these categories. They are Altostratus and Altocumulus clouds.
- These clouds form between 2 and 6 km above Earth's surface.
- Altostratus clouds usually cover the whole sky, and form ahead of storms with continuous rain or snow.
- Altocumulus clouds appear as puffy gray masses, and form in groups. If you see these clouds on a warm, sticky morning, be prepared for thunderstorms in the afternoon.
Pictures from: community.ca.com, vivoscuola.it, sxc.hu, weather.od.edu, australiasevereweather.com, darksilverflame.deviantart.com