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Clouds

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Clouds

  1. 1. Common Cloud Names, Shapes, and Altitudes:
  2. 2. Genus Species (can be only one) Varieties (can be more than one) Cloud humilis Cumulus mediocris radiatus Classification: congestus Low Clouds fractus Cumulonimbus calvus (none) Clouds are classified using a (extend through all 3 levels) capillatus Latin “Linnean” system based Stratus nebulosus opacus, translucidus, undulatus on genera and species, fractus originally developed by Luke stratiformis translucidus, perlucidus, opacus, Howard, an amateur Stratocumulus lenticularis duplicatus, undulatus, radiatus, meteorologist and Quaker in castellanus lacunosus 1802. Middle Clouds stratiformus lenticularis translucidus, perlucidus, opacus, Altocumulus duplicatus, undulatus, radiatus, The modern classification castellanus lacunosus floccus scheme is based on Howard’s system and is detailed in The translucidus, perlucidus, opacus, Altostratus (none) duplicatus, undulatus, radiatus International Cloud Atlas, published by the World Nimbostratus (extend through 1+ levels) (none) (none) Meteorological Organization fibratus since 1896. uncinus intortus, radiatus, vertebratus, In addition to standardizing Cirrus spissatus High Clouds duplicatus castellanus the genus-species system, the floccus WMO also classified clouds by stratiformis altitude and divided the lenticularis troposphere into 3 levels: Cirrocumulus undulatus, lacunosus castellanus floccus Low-level Clouds: < 6,500 ft. fibratus Mid-level Clouds: 6,500 to 23,000 ft. Cirrostratus duplicatus, undulatus High-level Clouds: 16,500 to 45,000 ft. nebulosus
  3. 3. Cumulus Clouds Fast Facts: (“The cloud of choice for 6-yr.-olds”) Typical Altitude: 2,000-3,000 ft. Location: Worldwide (except in Antartica, where it’s too cold) Precipitation: Generally none, except for brief showers from There are three species of cumulus clouds: congestus • humilis are wider than they are tall Composition: Liquid water • mediocris are as wide as they are tall Formation: Thermal convection currents • congestus are taller than they are wide Often called “fair-weather” clouds, cumulus clouds are common over land on sunny days, when the sun heats the land creating thermal convection currents Each thermal is distinct, and, consequently, each cumulus cloud is a distinct puff
  4. 4. Cumulonimbus Clouds Fast Facts: (“The towering thunderclouds that scare us senseless”) Typical Altitude: 2,000-45,000 ft. Location: Common in tropics and temperate regions, rare at Three critical conditions for cumulonimbus poles formation: Precipitation: Heavy downpours, hail Composition: Liquid water throughout, • Ready supply of warm, moist air, which ice crystals at the top rises at speeds of up to 25-70 mph Formation: Upwardly mobile cumulus congestus clouds (thermals) • Tropospheric winds need to increase considerably with height to encourage it to slant forward • The atmosphere around the cloud needs to be “unstable” – no temp. inversions here
  5. 5. Stratus Clouds Fast Facts: (“The clouds that weigh heavily on your mood”) Typical Altitude: 0-6,500 ft. Location: Worldwide, but especially Stratus clouds are the lowest forming and are often common around coasts and called fog or mists when they are earth-bound mountains Precipitation: No more than light drizzle Stratus clouds are formed when Composition: Liquid water a large air mass cools at the same time (e.g. – a warm air Formation: Advective or radiative cooling parcel drifts into or above a cooler region)
  6. 6. Stratocumulus Clouds Fast Facts: (“The low, puffy layers”) Typical Altitude: 2,000-6,500 ft. Location: Worldwide – very common Similar to cumulus clouds in form and composition, Precipitation: Occasional light rain, snow stratocumulus clouds are textured and puffy, but also Composition: Liquid water joined into a semi-continuous layer Formation: Spreading and joining of cumulus clouds below a Stratocumulus clouds usually form from cumulus or temperature inversion, wind turbulence in a stratus layer stratus clouds
  7. 7. Altocumulus Clouds Fast Facts: (“Layers of bread rolls”) Typical Altitude: 6,500-18,000 ft. Location: Worldwide Since altocumulus clouds are high in the sky, they are Precipitation: Very occasional light rain generally above the influence of thermals, and form Composition: Mostly liquid water, may very differently from cumulus and stratocumulus clouds, also contain ice crystals who share similar names. Formation: Mid-level atmospheric disturbances and wave propagation (from e.g. – mountatins)
  8. 8. Altostratus Clouds Fast Facts: (“The boring clouds”) Typical Altitude: 6,500-16,500 ft. Location: Worldwide, common in middle latitudes Below 6,500 ft. it’s stratus Precipitation: Occasional light rain, snow Between 6,500 and 23,000 ft. it’s altostratus Composition: Both liquid water, and ice crystals Boring! – but being so high up, they do make for nice Formation: Usually formed from the thickening and lowering of a sunsets. cirrostratus cloud on its way to becoming a nimbostratus cloud Altostratus Altocumulus Altostratus are potentially dangerous to aircraft because they can cause ice accumulation on the wings.
  9. 9. Nimbostratus Clouds Fast Facts: (“Rainy day clouds”) Typical Altitude: 2,000-18,000 ft. Location: Worldwide, common in middle latitudes The nimbostratus cloud has no species or varieties. Precipitation: Moderate to heavy rain or It is a thick, wet blanket with a ragged base caused by snow, which is generally the continual precipitation steady and prolonged Composition: Liquid water, raindrops snowflakes and ice crystals Formation: Usually formed from the thickening and lowering of a altostratus cloud
  10. 10. Cirrus Clouds Fast Facts: (“Delicate cloud streaks”) Typical Altitude: 16,500-45,000 ft. Cirrus clouds are the highest of all clouds and are Location: Worldwide composed entirely of ice crystals. Precipitation: None that reaches ground Composition: Ice crystals Cirrus clouds are precipitating clouds, although the ice crystals evaporate high above the earth’s surface. Formation: Fall streaks of ice crystals in upper troposphere winds The crystals, caught in 100-150 mph winds create wisps of cloud.
  11. 11. Cirrocumulus Clouds Fast Facts: (“Regularly spaced cloudlets, often rippled”) Typical Altitude: 16,500-45,000 ft. Location: Worldwide Cirrocumulus clouds are usually a transitional phase Precipitation: None that reaches ground between cirrus and cirrostratus clouds. Composition: Ice crystals Large numbers of cirrocumulus clouds may indicate Formation: Cloudlets formed by choppy poor weather is approaching. winds and high moisture levels in upper troposphere
  12. 12. Cirrostratus Clouds Fast Facts: (“Delicate cloud streaks”) Typical Altitude: 20,000-42,000 ft. Location: Worldwide Cirrostratus clouds are difficult to spot and appear as Precipitation: None a pale, milky lightening of the sky. Composition: Ice crystals Cirrostratus clouds never block out the sun Formation: Spreading and joining of completely, but rather produce a variety of optical cirrus clouds effects.
  13. 13. Contrails and Others cirrus cirrostratus cirrus contrails Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds Cumulus

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