Welcome to our post which takes a look at cloud formations.
All air contains moisture in the form of water vapour, which is water in gaseous form. Warm air can hold more water vapour than cold air. When warm air is cooled, usually by moving upwards in the troposphere, its capacity to hold water vapour decreases.
Finally dew point is reached, which means the air is completely saturated, having a relative humidity of 100 percent. Fu rther cooling beyond dew point leads to water vapour condensing around nucleii, such as specks of dust or salt to form water droplets, or in colder air, minute ice crystals. Large quantities of water vapour form clouds.
Four Main Types of Cloud Formations
There are four main types of cloud formations, namely cirroform, cumuloform, stratoform and nimboform. These clouds are classified by their height and their structural characteristics. There are also a range of hybrid combinations of these cloud types.
Cirroform clouds are the highest cloud formation and will typically be found between 16,000 and 50,000 feet. Cirro is latin for “curl of hair” provides a good description for this thin and wispy cloud structure.
Two of the more common types of cirrus clouds are cirrocumulus and cirrostratus clouds.
Cumulus clouds are easily recognizable in that they often looked detached or isolated from other clouds. They can appear as though they like are fluffy cotton balls usually with flat bases. Cumulo is latin for “heap” or “pile”. Cumulus clouds can be found a few hundred to just over 3,000 feet above the earths surface.
Typical cumuloform clouds include the following:
Stratoform clouds are layer clouds and appear as hazy sheets or layer of gray cloud that will exhibit little definition or features.
Stratos clouds are known as low or mid atmospheric clouds. Mid-level stratos clouds are known as altostratus whilst high level ones are known as cirrostratus.
Nimboform clouds are a hybrid form of cloud. Nimbo which is latin for rain can best be witnessed as nimbostratus and cumulonimbus. Nimbostratus are layered clouds which produce rain. Cumulonimbus, which can extend from the lower to the higher troposhphere are best known as thunder storm clouds.
As well as these main types of cloud there are many, many other variations to look out for:
- Altocumulus standing lenticular (wave clouds)
- Arcus cloud