Clouds among the most striking and noticeable effects of the atmosphere and its weather.
Clouds are a form of condensation best described as visible mixtures of tiny droplets of water or tiny crystals of ice.
Clouds show what’s going on in the atmosphere.
Types of Clouds
Clouds are classified on the basis of their form and height.
The three basic forms are cirrus, cumulus, and stratus.
All other clouds reflect one of these three basic forms or are combinations or modifications of them.
Cirrus- (a curl of hair)
These clouds are high, white, and thin, and they occur as patches or like sheets.
Also known as “wispy.”
These clouds consist of rounded individual cloud masses.
They normally have a flat base and the appearance of towers and often have a cauliflower structure.
Clouds are best described as sheets or layers that cover the sky.
Cirrus, cirrostratus. cirrocumulus
These clouds are not considered precipitation makers.
May warn of approaching stormy weather.
Clouds that appear in the middle range from about 2000-6000 meters.
Altocumulus and altostratus
Stratus, stratocumulus, and nimbostratus.
The stratus clouds are like a uniform, a fog like layer of clouds that frequently cover much of the sky.
“ Nimbus” means “rainy cloud” and “stratus” means “to cover with a layer.”
These clouds are known as precipitation makers.
Physically there is not difference between a fog and a cloud but their appearance and structure are the same.
Their difference is the method and place of formation.
Most fogs are the result of radiation cooling or the movement of air over a cold surface.
Fog is defined as a cloud with its base at or very near the ground.
How Precipitation Forms
Cloud droplets are very tiny, averaging less than 20 micrometers in diameter.
Because of their small size, the rate at which cloud droplets fall is incredibly slow.
For precipitation to form, cloud droplets must grow in volume by roughly one million times.
Cold Cloud Precipitation
The Bergeron process- a theory that relates the formation of precipitation to super cooled clouds, freezing nuclei, and the different levels of ice and liquid water.
Supercooled- the condition of water droplets that remain the liquid state at temperatures well below 0 degrees Celsius
Supersaturated- the condition of air that is more highly concentrated than is normally possible under given temperature and pressure conditions; when describing humidity it refers to a relative humidity that is greater than 100 percent.
Forms of Precipitation
The type of precipitation that reaches Earth’s surface depends on the temperature profile in the lowest few kilometers of the atmosphere.