How to become a cloud expert in 5 minutes and impress your friends!
This post is a re-cap of your old geography lessons, a cloud 101! When you were too cool for school you may have professed that you found this boring….but you can drop the act now. How much do you really know about clouds?
If your knowledge is below par, relax! We have everything you need to know right here. We will start with the basics.
What Exactly Are Clouds?
A cloud is defined by Google as….a visible mass of condensed watery vapour floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the general level of the ground. They are a collection of tiny droplets of water or ice crystals, so small and light that they float.
They bring rain that is essential to life and regulate the temperature of the Earth. They can change shape and form and provide indictors to weather that is on the way.
How Do Clouds Form?
The short answer is that clouds appear as water changes from gas to liquid in the air. The process is called convection. The sun heats the ground and air directly above it. As it warms, the air becomes lighter and flows upwards, carrying water vapour (evaporation). As the air continues to rise it cools and deposits the water vapour, which ‘condenses’ and clusters together, remaining in the atmosphere.
The opposite can happen when air sinks. It can carry more water vapour, and clouds appear to dissolve as the water changes back from tiny liquid droplets into gas.
Clouds can also form over mountains where air is forced upward against the steep slope, and when two large bodies of air collide.
Clouds tend to appear white because their water droplets are large enough to scatter the light of the spectrum, which combine to produce white light. If they get thick enough, or reach a high enough altitude, where light cannot get through, the clouds appear dark and grey.
Heights of Cloud
Clouds are constantly changing and can be seen in a huge variety of forms. Luke Howard, a pharmacist from London and amateur meteorologist, wrote a book ‘The Modification of Clouds’, in 1803 which classified the clouds, this is the foundation still used today. Howard classified them using Latin words based on their appearance.
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