Cloud Types: Short Classification

Cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body, – say scientists. Below we will tell you about the main types of clouds.

Cloud Names: How to Identify Different Types

According to the scientific data, clouds have different names based on their shape and their height in the sky. Really, if we peer into the sky, we will notice that some clouds are near the ground. At the same time, others are almost as high as jet planes fly. Some are puffy like cotton. Others are grey and uniform. Besides, understanding more about clouds can help you foresee approaching weather, and it’s always fun to share your knowledge of clouds.

So, there are following cloud types in meteorology:

  1. High-level clouds

    The highest clouds can reach over five kilometres above ground. At this height, the temperature is below freezing, which means clouds at this level consist of ice crystals. According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the most common types include small, rounded puffs called cirrocumulus clouds; white, wispy, feathery clouds called cirrus; and the wide-spreading and sheet-thin cirrostratus. These high clouds are often the first sign of an approaching warm front, and they don’t produce rain.

  2. Middle-level clouds

    Altostratus, altocumulus and nimbostratus clouds are typically found between 2 and 6 kilometres above the ground. Altostratus resembles a smooth grey sheet across the sky. Sometimes the sun shines through the layer as a diffuse ball as if you were looking at it through a pane of frosted glass.
When cumulus cloud tops begin to resemble cauliflower, they have a name of towering cumulus, and they can develop into thunderstorm clouds.
 In fact, altocumulus clouds can appear in a wide variety of different shapes. When these clouds are very thin or semi-transparent, you might see a series of coloured rings appearing immediately around the moon or sun, causing an atmospheric effect called a corona. Sometimes the clouds themselves take on iridescent colours; a phenomenon known as irisation. Nimbostratus clouds are smooth layers of grey, which often cannot be seen clearly because of the precipitation falling from them.

  3. Low-level clouds

    The location of stratus, cumulus and stratocumulus clouds is at altitudes of 2 kilometres or lower. Stratus clouds appear as smooth, even sheets; light rain and drizzle often fall from them; light snow or freezing drizzle during the winter. Fog is merely a stratus cloud reaching to, or forming on the ground.
Cumulus clouds can range in size from resembling balls of cotton to big heaps of mashed potatoes in the sky. Meteorologists also call them “fair weather clouds,” because they usually have not any association with precipitation, but occasionally they can grow into thunderstorms (cumulonimbus). In accordance with the scientists, they are convective clouds and are caused by the heating of the ground by the Sun. Stratocumulus clouds are similar to altocumulus in that they can appear in a wide variety of different shapes and textures.

Other Cloud Types

 

Not every cloud in the sky fits into these categories — contrails, long white streaks formed by water droplets from the engine exhaust of high-flying planes, are one example. There are also wall clouds, shelf clouds and the pouch-like mammatus clouds that often occur after a severe thunderstorm.

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