The sky is an everpresent thing, filled with different curiosities and wonders depending on the time of day that you find yourself under it. In the middle of the day, while the sun is shining, on most days you can see white splotches of clouds. Not only on sunny days though, it’s also on days when it rains or even snows that these things can be seen in the sky. So what are they, really and what are the different types?
Clouds are formed from floating droplets of water or ice particles that are suspended at different levels in the atmosphere of a planetary body. They are formed when water is heated by the sun during evaporation. As it rises in the sky, it cools, changing its state once again, and forming a cloud in the sky. It is because their temperature is different that allows them to float, with their temperature being warmer than the surrounding air.
There are many different types of clouds that form and exist within the sky. Clouds that float 16500 to 45000 feet up in the sky are considered ‘high clouds’ which include formations such as cirrostratus clouds which are white clouds that blanket the sky in a thin white veil that suggests the coming of rain or snow within the next twenty-four hours. Some clouds are considered to be mid-level (6500-23000ft), such as nimbostratus clouds that are dark and gray and seem to fade into continuous snow or rainfall, so thick that they may even blot out the sun. Low clouds float at less than 6500 feet such as the Cumulus clouds that look like wads of cotton in the sky and suggest fair weather is on the horizon. There are some clouds that are considered special such as orographic clouds which are shaped by the mountain airs that they fall upon as well as the sea winds that move into them. These specific clouds are a sign of a potential thunderstorm.
Clouds add something a little bit wonderful to a sunset sky, or an early warning sign for when dangerous storms are coming, as well as contributing to a cycle that benefits our entire ecosystem as well as the man controlled agriculture. Nature is far more complicated than it looks at first glance.