What are CLOUDS? A cloud is a large collection of very tiny droplets of water or ice crystals. The droplets are so small and light that they can float in the air.
How are clouds formed? All air contains water, but near the ground it is usually in the form of an invisible gas called water vapor. When warm air rises, it expands and cools. Cool air can't hold as much water vapor as warm air, so some of the vapor condenses onto tiny pieces of dust that are floating in the air and forms a tiny droplet around each dust particle. When billions of these droplets come together they become a visible cloud.
Why are clouds white? Clouds are white because they reflect the light of the sun. Light is made up of colors of the rainbow and when you add them all together you get white. The sun appears a yellow color because it sends out more yellow light than any other color. Clouds reflect all the colors the exact same amount so they look white.
Why do clouds turn gray? Clouds are made up of tiny water droplets or ice crystals, usually a mixture of both. The water and ice scatter all light, making clouds appear white. If the clouds get thick enough or high enough all the light above does not make it through, hence the gray or dark look. Also, if there are lots of other clouds around, their shadow can add to the gray or multicolored gray appearance.
Why do clouds float? A cloud is made up of liquid water droplets. A cloud forms when air is heated by the sun. As it rises, it slowly cools it reaches the saturation point and water condenses, forming a cloud. As long as the cloud and the air that its made of is warmer than the outside air around it, it floats!
How do clouds move? Clouds move with the wind. High cirrus clouds are pushed along by the jet stream, sometimes traveling at more than 100 miles-per-hour. When clouds are part of a thunderstorm they usually travel at 30 to 40 mph.
Cloud Types There are many different types of clouds and different ways to identify them. This type of identification classifies clouds by the height of the cloud base. High Level Clouds Mid-Level Clouds Low-Level Clouds Vertically Developed Clouds Miscellaneous Clouds
HIGH-LEVEL CLOUDS High-level clouds form above 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) and since the temperatures are so cold at such high elevations, these clouds are primarily composed of ice crystals. High-level clouds are typically thin and white in appearance, but can appear in a magnificent array of colors when the sun is low on the horizon.
HIGH-LEVEL CLOUDS There are two cloud types that fall into the high-level cloud category. - Cirrus: - Cirrostratus Thin & wispy Sheet-like & composed of crystals
MID-LEVEL CLOUDS The bases of mid-level clouds typically appear between 6,500 to 20,000 feet (2,000 to 6,000 meters). Because of their lower altitudes, they are composed primarily of water droplets, however, they can also be composed of ice crystals when temperatures are cold enough.
MID-LEVEL CLOUDS There are two cloud types that fall into the mid-level cloud category - Altocumulus: -Altostratus Rounded Masses Uniform gray layer
LOW-LEVEL CLOUDS Low clouds are of mostly composed of water droplets since their bases generally lie below 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). However, when temperatures are cold enough, these clouds may also contain ice particles and snow.
LOW-LEVEL CLOUDS There are two cloud types that fall into the low-level cloud category - Nimbostratus: - Stratocumulus Dark with precipitation Lumpy layer of clouds
VERTICALLY DEVELOPED CLOUDS Probably the most familiar of the classified clouds is the cumulus cloud. Generated most commonly through either thermal convection or frontal lifting, these clouds can grow to heights in excess of 39,000 feet (12,000 meters), releasing incredible amounts of energy through the condensation of water vapor within the cloud itself.
VERTICALLY DEVELOPED CLOUDS There are two cloud types that fall into the vertically developed cloud category. - Fair Weather Cumulus: - Cumulonimbus Puffy cotton balls Reach high
MISCELLANEOUS CLOUDS Finally, I will introduce a collection of miscellaneous cloud types which do not fit into the previous four groups. There are five different types of clouds that fit into the miscellaneous category. - Contrails - Billow Clouds - Mammatus - Orographic - Pileus Clouds
forced lifting of air
smooth & attached to a mountain top or growing cumulus tower