What factors influence cloud height and type? For example, why do altocumulus clouds fail to form at 6400m in high latitude locations, but will form at this height at a lower latitude? Is it simply an issue of temperature?

  • $\begingroup$ I have noticed the clouds in Canada, where I live ,seem to be lower than other places ,near the cancer latitude .this phenomenon motivated me to ask this question. Thanks for the explanation you provided .. $\endgroup$
    – user24992
    Dec 4, 2021 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


It depends on the height of the troposphere. On the equator troposphere has at least 12 km height, but in the polar latitudes it might be even less than 8 km. That difference in troposphere altitude allows clouds to form differently depending on the latitude. The second reason is that higher parts of the troposphere closer to the equator are warmer and contain more moisture than in the polar region.

  • $\begingroup$ Could you explain what you mean by "that difference in troposphere density"? $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Feb 3, 2018 at 4:38
  • $\begingroup$ Well Earth has three circulation cells. First from 30S to 30N - Hadley cell, second 30S to 60S and 30N to 60N - Ferrel cell, and from 60S to 90S, 60S to 90N - polar cell. That model explains atmospheric circulation on Earth, but also thanks to that we know that westerlies in Hadley cell, with strong convection on the equator tropospher has length up to even 14 km. This process does not appear in polar cell, where troposphere has only at last 6/7 km. As you can see Cirrus will appear in polar cell at 6th km, where closer to equator this altitudes will be increasing. $\endgroup$
    – Hiddenguy
    Feb 3, 2018 at 7:39
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how this addresses your term 'tropospere density". I was suggesting to edit your answer to make it more clear. $\endgroup$
    – f.thorpe
    Feb 3, 2018 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ If you read my answer carefully, you'd understand the whole concept. I have changed word "density" to "altitude". My comment post, extends my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Hiddenguy
    Feb 3, 2018 at 9:30

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