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The state of the clouds and it can only be one of the three states, solid, liquid, or gas. Which one are clouds?

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome. Do you mean the state like in gaseous, solid, liquid ? A cloud is a complicated thing. It is mostly air (gaseous), but also has liquid (water) and some have solid (ice) components. So, i fear, the question should be re-formulated. Are you thinking of a certain type of cloud ? $\endgroup$ – user18607 Feb 1 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ Hi @paulaDawid, welcome to Stack Exchange! The "three states of matter" is a helpful concept but it's not really an absolute law, and it certainly doesn't apply to mixtures, aerosols or "all stuff" in general. It looks like your question was closed, asking for additional clarity. If you can edit it and make it more answerable, for example "how much of a cloud's water is gas and how much is liquid" that might be better. You can ask as many questions as you like, but each one needs to be answerable. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 3 at 6:04
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    $\begingroup$ Voting to reopen. This question is based on a very basic misconception. We don't (or shouldn't) close questions for a lack of understanding. The question here is clear, but is based on a wrongheaded concept. Our job is to clear up that misunderstanding. $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Feb 3 at 12:21
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    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, the stated close reason is incorrect, and it definitely was not welcoming to a new user. But on closer inspection, this question should have been closed as a duplicate of Are clouds a gas, liquid, and/or solid? The top answer to that question nicely ends with "A cloud is a mixture of gas, liquid and solids." $\endgroup$ – David Hammen Feb 3 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ I agree! Let's re-open so that the question can be answered. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Feb 4 at 0:37
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Clouds consist of suspended (floating) liquid water droplets ("liquid clouds"), frozen (solid) ice particles ("ice clouds"), or a mixture of both ("mixed phase clouds"). In-between those droplets or ice particles (meteorologists use the phrase hydrometeor to encompass both) is air which will contain water vapour, but what you are seeing is the liquid and solid parts. Some people believe that when they're seeing clouds, they're seeing water vapour. They are wrong. Don't feel bad about sharing this belief, I've known an atmospheric (!!) scientist at a national research institute have the same misconception. Whether the humid air between the droplets or particles is part of the cloud is a matter of definition, but ice particles may contain air bubbles so I think it would be unreasonable to say there is no water vapour in a cloud.

One way to tell this by yourself is experiencing fog. Fog is nothing else than a cloud that is connected to the ground. If you walk through fog (preferably dense fog) and look carefully, you will notice it consists of many tiny water droplets (or ice particles, but then it should be very cold, as small cloud particles will not freeze immediately at -5°C or -10°C).

Tall clouds such as Cumulonimbus usually consist of liquid droplets near the bottom, ice particles in the anvil or incus (the top part that may spread out horizontally), and mixed in-between. Mixed phase clouds are pretty difficult to model or even measure accurately, as the exact proportion between liquid and solid depends on many (unknown) factors.

See also Ice and Mixed Phase Clouds at the Centre for Atmospheric Science, University of Manchester (UK).

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You are mistaken in thinking clouds can only be in one of three states. Cumulus and cumulo-nimbus are mostly made of fine water droplets, but also contain water vapour. Cumulo-nimbus (thundercloud) can also contain ice and ice crystals in its upper layers, and produce hail. Cirrostratus is composed of fine ice crystals at high altitude, as is cirrus.

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    $\begingroup$ And it confuses stratus with cirrus. $\endgroup$ – user18607 Feb 1 at 15:54
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    $\begingroup$ To be fair to Mr Walsby, if anybody else had written this answer it might not have got many upvotes, but it probably wouldn't have downvotes either. $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon Feb 4 at 14:10
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    $\begingroup$ (1) Please take discussion about the need for references to Earth Science Meta (comments here deleted), and (2) please vote on an answer based on its merits regardless of who wrote it. This answer could be improved, but does it really deserve to be +0/-4? $\endgroup$ – gerrit Feb 4 at 15:02

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