Clouds are classed based on their height above the ground and their appearance (texture) from the ground. The cloud roots and translations listed below describe the components of this categorization system: 1 Cirro-: hair curl, high 3 Stratospheric layer. 6 Stratus -: lumpy, low 7 Cumulonimbus -: storm cloud, very tall with an active base 8 Altostratus -: thin, flat sheets. 9 Nimbostratus -: gray, dense fog. 10 Nephilim -: shadow, formed by a large body of land
The processes that lead to cloud formation can be divided into two general categories: collisional and non-collisional. Collisional cloud formation occurs when particles in the atmosphere collide together to form larger particles or droplets. This process can only form clouds higher than about 6 miles (10 km) because anything lower than that is beyond the range of the collisions. Non-collisional cloud formation involves changes to liquid water particles without any change in size. These particles may or may not remain suspended in the air for some time before falling back to earth. Non-collisional cloud formation can lead to clouds at any altitude since there's no limit on how high a particle can rise before it falls again.
Clouds are classified based on two factors: their altitude (low, medium, or high) and their form (nimbus, stratus, cumulus, or cirrus). Cloud kinds are called based on height and shape features, and they give information about how clouds originate and behave.
Classification is important for understanding cloud behavior and for using that knowledge to predict changes in the environment due to human activity. For example, clouds can be used as indicators of air quality because certain chemicals are more likely to be found in areas with poor air quality. Knowing that a cloud has a stratus base shape means that there is a good chance that the cloud is not going to cause problems for visibility even if it is very dark out.
Another use of classification is to identify different types of clouds in order to understand their formation processes. Nimbus clouds are often formed when moisture in the atmosphere forms large droplets that are too heavy to stay in the atmosphere. When wind blows over these moist regions, its force keeps the drops suspended in the air until they fall due to gravity or are blown away by another wind event. Stratus clouds are also formed from moisture in the atmosphere but instead of forming large droplets they form thin layers of ice or liquid water that thicken into clouds. Cumulus clouds are yet another type of cloud that forms when moisture in the atmosphere rises into warmer air above it.
Clouds are distinguished primarily by their altitude and form. Luke Howard pioneered this work around the turn of the nineteenth century. We currently classify clouds in two ways as a result of his work. Examining the Latin roots of the terms is the clearest approach to grasp this system. The following are the primary types of clouds:
Cumulus clouds are the largest and most common variety. They are usually white or light gray in color and often have large, loose clusters of droplets suspended within them. Cumulonimbus clouds are the most severe type of cloud in nature. They are black with intense red colors near the base where it touches the ground and have high, thin pillars extending up toward the sky.
Stratus clouds are another common type of cloud. They are usually pale blue in color and may contain small particles that reflect sunlight back into space. Altocumulus clouds are a third type of cloud. They are a mixture of altostratus and cumulus clouds and appear grayish-white in color.
Each type of cloud has different characteristics which help scientists identify them. For example, cumulus clouds tend to be higher up in the atmosphere than other types of clouds and stratus clouds tend to be closer to the ground.
People have been interested in clouds for centuries because they can have an enormous impact on Earth's climate. Clouds either block out part of the sun's energy or allow it through.