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  • 1. Cold and dry
  • 2. Cloud Classification Four latin terms form the basis for the naming of clouds: – Cirrus : fibrous or hair-like – Cumulus : a heap or pile – Stratus : a horizontal sheet or layer – Nimbus : rain-bearing The prefix Alto is used to indicate medium altitude clouds. Terms, and basic classifications first proposed by Luke Howard in 1803. - good online guide
  • 3. Cloud types Name of cloud types Conventional symbols Average heights Notes Stratus St 800m High fogs Nimbostratus Ns 1000m Heavy showers Stratocumulus Sc 1500m Altocumulus Ac 3500m Altostratus As 4000m Cirrocumulus Cc 7000m Cirrostratus Cs 8000m Forming halos Cirrus Ci 9000m Not hiding the sun Cumulus Cu 18000m Clouds formed by ascent of air Cumulonimbus Cb 20000m Clouds formed by ascent of air Low clouds (average higher level 2000m; average lower level near the soil) Average clouds (average higher level 6000m; average lower level 2000m) High clouds (average lower level 6000m) Vertical clouds
  • 4. High Level: – Cloud base above 6000m – Are all forms of cirrus (ice clouds) Medium Level: – Cloud base 2000-6000m Low level: – Cloud base below 2000m (within boundary layer)
  • 5. High-Level Clouds Cirrus (Ci): White, delicate, fibrous in appearance. Forms in patches or narrow bands. May for comma-shaped streaks or “mare’s tails” (cirrus uncinus) Cirrus clouds are formed entirely of ice crystals. These grow and evaporate slowly, leading to soft edges to clouds.
  • 6. Cirrostratus (Cs): Thin, transparent sheet or veil; sun clearly visible & casting shadows at surface. A halo may be seen around the sun (or moon). Sheets of cirrostratus may cover entire sky, and be up to several 1000m deep.
  • 7. Cirrocumulus (Cc): Thin white patch or sheet of cloud; appears dappled or rippled. Dappling results from convective overturning within the cloud, ripples from gravity waves. Aircraft contrails: condensation from aircraft exhaust. May dissipate quickly, or be very long- lived depending on conditions.
  • 8. Medium-Level Clouds Altostratus (As): A greyish sheet of cloud, may be fibrous or uniform in appearance. Thin enough in parts to make out the sun, but no halo.
  • 9. Altocumulus (Ac): white or grey patches arranged in sheets. Shape and texture are variable. There are several distinct sub-classes of altocumulus
  • 10. Altocumulus lenticularis (Ac len): white or grey lenticular (lens shaped) clouds formed by the lifting of air over a topographic barrier.
  • 11. Altocumulus castellanus (Ac cas): white or grey, broken cumulus-like clouds; upper part appearing castle-like. Sometimes arranged in lines.
  • 12. Altocumulus undulatus (Ac und): white or grey patches or sheets of cloud with an undulating or rippled appearance.
  • 13. Low-Level Clouds Cumulus (Cu): Brilliant white to grey, dense detached clouds. Forms clumped or heaped (cauliflower-like) shapes, usually with sharp outlines and flat base. Field of Cu often have bases all at same (lifting condensation) level.
  • 14. Cumulus humilis (Cu hum): small cumulus, of limited vertical extent, may have a flattened appearance. Also called fair-weather cumulus
  • 15. Cumulus mediocris : cumulus, of moderate vertical extent.
  • 16. Cumulus congestus: crowded (congested) field of cumulus or greater vertical extent. May produce rain.
  • 17. Pileus : cap clouds that form above large cumulus as the upward motion of the convective cloud distorts the layer of air above (pileus is latin for skull-cap)
  • 18. Cumulonimbus (Cb) : huge towering cloud, dark base and white sides. Associated with heavy rain, thunderstorms, and hail. Frequently has an anvil shaped top.
  • 19. mammatus : smooth, rounded shapes sometimes formed on the underside of cumulonimbus; they result from downdrafts within the cloud.
  • 20. Stratocumulus (Sc) : white or grey sheet of cloud, usually formed in mounds or rolls.
  • 21. Stratocumulus with virga – hair-like strands of falling rain, which evaporate below cloud before reaching the surface.
  • 22. Stratus (St) : grey featureless layer of cloud with a uniform base. Often associated with drizzle or snow.
  • 23. Nimbostratus (Ns) : Dark grey, featureless, thick layer of cloud. Associated with prolonged precipitation. Commonly forms in frontal systems
  • 24. Precipitation • Cloud droplets require a condensation nuclei on which to form; growth then occurs by deposition of water molecules from vapour. – Growth is limited by local supersaturation of the vapour – Growth rate decreases as droplet size increases • Cloud droplets are typically 10 to 30 m in diameter. Growth/evaporation can occur within a few 10s of seconds. • Rain drops are typically 0.5 to 5 mm in diameter, growth from the vapour would take several hours – longer than the lifetime of typical convective clouds.
  • 25. • In order to grow into rain drops, cloud droplets must grow by coalescence – Larger droplets fall faster than small ones, and can collide with them – The process by which a sufficient number of large enough droplets is generated remains a topic of active research • Ice crystals provide a more efficient process – Saturation vapour pressure over ice is less than that over water ice crystals grow at expense of water droplets – If ice crystal touches a droplet, the droplet freezes – Once large enough, ice crystals – or clumps of crystals – fall past droplets and collect them. Rapid growth of soft hail pellet (graupel) by riming. – Graupel falls from cloud, melting before reaching the surface as rain
  • 26. Cloud Radiative Effects • Clouds play an important controlling role in the global radiation budget. – Reflection of incoming solar (short-wave) radiation – Absorption of both solar and thermal infra red (long-wave) radiation (incoming & outgoing) – Emission of infra red radiation (up and down) • The altitude, type, and thickness of cloud, along with that of clouds above & below determines whether the local net effect is to warm or cool the air & surface below.
  • 27. Vertical Transport • Deep convective clouds play a major role in mixing boundary layer air – along with moisture, aerosol particles, and gases (both natural and man-made pollutants) – up into the free-troposphere.
  • 28. Chemistry • Clouds provide an environment within which aqueous phase chemical reactions can take place within the atmosphere • Aerosol particles can be substantially modified within clouds – Aqueous phase reactions with gases dissolved in droplets – Coalescence of droplets brings multiple aerosol particles together • Chemically different aerosol may react • On evaporation of droplet, a single aerosol particle is formed, containing material from all contributing droplets
  • 29. Climate Controls
  • 30. Trends in annual diurnal temperature range (DTR, °C/decade), from 1950 to 1993