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Questions tagged [clouds]

In meteorology, a cloud refers to a visible group of liquid droplets and/or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals, suspended in the atmosphere.

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3 answers
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Why clouds are not moving in NASA's video of the Moon passing in front of the Earth?

I recently saw a short video from NASA. It shows the moon passing by the Earth as it rotates. NASA link: From a Million Miles Away, NASA Camera Shows Moon Crossing Face of Earth. The video itself ...
Chris Parton's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why are clouds darker before it rains?

What causes the darker color of the clouds (nimbus) when it is about to rain? Non-precipitating clouds (e.g., cumulus, stratus) tend to be white, but rain clouds become gray and almost black before it ...
arkaia's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why One Side of Mountain Range is Lush

I'm new to this site and certainly not someone with any real background in atmospheric science, so please forgive me if this question is a little stupid. I recall learning in High School about ...
user153582's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
5k views

Why do clouds sometimes form a ring around the Sun?

Someone shared a video with me in which clouds were forming a ring around the Sun. I took this screen shot of that video: What is the reason behind this?
Aishwarya Shiva's user avatar
16 votes
2 answers
97k views

Are clouds a gas, liquid, and/or solid?

Are clouds a solid, liquid, or gas? I have been looking online and they are often described ambiguously as a "mass". For instance, from NASA: A cloud is a mass of water drops or ice crystals ...
neuronet's user avatar
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15 votes
3 answers
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What causes these banded clouds?

A set of banded clouds can be seen in MODIS imagery during several days in January and February over the Gulf of Maine. They tend to occur with very cold winds from the NW following storms. There are ...
arkaia's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
4k views

Are cloudy nights warmer than nights without clouds?

I have noticed this winter that nights without clouds (especially when the 12h before the night where not cloudy) were way colder than the cloudy ones. It makes sense to me because the clouds can ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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What type of cloud formation are these dark low-hanging clouds?

I was thinking it could have been a non-rotating wall cloud, but I'm not sure. YouTube video Picture taken on September 9 2014... between 5-7 pm in North Georgia, about 40 miles north of Atlanta.
Kaz's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
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Why are the clouds white and Australia black in weather satellite infrared images?

The question Is the sunlight on the GOES-16 Imagery reaching from the east? shows a visible light image and so in the night areas the Earth appears dark and in the day areas the Earth is a bit ...
uhoh's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
10k views

What determines how fast clouds move?

Do cirrus clouds in the upper troposphere move faster than cumulus and stratus clouds in the lower atmosphere? What about clouds associated with extratropical systems, compared with clouds in the ...
InquilineKea's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
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Great Lakes - cookie cutter clouds

On 2014-07-10, in the afternoon, the GOES East satellite image in the visible showed a mass of cloud in central North America. However, in the middle, the Great Lakes stood out in a most extraordinary ...
John's user avatar
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13 votes
2 answers
503 views

How to tell if fog is made out of water droplets or ice crystals?

I understand that clouds can be made out of water droplets and/or ice crystals. And that fog is nothing else than low-lying clouds. However, I've experienced fog in a wide ranges of temperatures. I ...
Camilo Rada's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
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Why aren't lenticular clouds moved by the wind?

My book tells me that altocumulus lenticularis are not moved by wind but rather the air just flows through them without effect on their position. How come they are the only cloud type that is ...
323242323242's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
463 views

Do clouds float on anything?

Clouds of the same type have such a consistent altitude, it appears as if they're floating on an invisible layer. Is this true? Put another way, is there a significant change in air composition at ...
James Beninger's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
730 views

Snow from Fire: Could graupel, or even snow, fall from pyrocumulus clouds?

Pyrocumulus clouds often form in areas that experience prolonged fire conditions, particularly forest fires, but are also associated with volcanic eruptions and even nuclear explosions. This question ...
user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
247 views

What atmospheric radiative effects, if any, do contrails cause?

First of all, this question is not about the conspiracy theory based chemtrails as in the linked question, from the answers there and from the question Equation for predicting contrail formation I ...
user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
7k views

What causes clouds to appear blue?

In a thunderstorm cloud about sunset time, I saw these clouds, including some (in the upper right) that were a unique shade of blue. I don't think I've seen clouds quite that color before. I tried ...
WBT's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
5k views

How to tell the difference between real rain and fake rain (cloud seeding)?

I live in a city where the pollution is bad, so bad that sometimes we get 'fake' rain (from cloud seeding). This may last for an extended period. There have been times before when it has “rained” and ...
Mou某's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
2k views

How can daily brightness be quantified or measured?

It occurred to me that there might very will be a metric out there that measures and quantifies "daily brightness". Meaning, how bright any given day is, taking weather conditions and cloud coverage ...
smeeb's user avatar
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11 votes
1 answer
1k views

Electricity in clouds and induced magnetism

This is well known to everyone that clouds carry electric charges and cumulonimbus clouds contain huge amount of electricity. It is also known from Maxwell's equations that moving particles induce ...
Agni's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
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How does the influence of clouds on climate vary with height?

It is generally assumed that clouds affect climate by reflecting sunlight back to space and therefore decreasing the total warming of the Earth. However, stratospheric ice clouds are said to have a ...
f.thorpe's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
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Weight vs. Mass of Clouds

I came across a statement online that said that an average cloud has a weight of 1 million pounds. My main question is, does a cloud actually have weight on Earth or was the term "weight" a colloquial ...
Mirkules's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is this spaceship-shaped cloud?

This tweet from the European Space Agency (ESA)'s Spanish account show a striking photo of a round, flat, "space-ship-shaped" cloud in an otherwise completely clear sky. The stars are out so I assume ...
uhoh's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
456 views

What is this cloud formation?

What is the cloud formation in this video? I don't know where this footage was taken. Here's the link to the video again.
Rob's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
253 views

How do the various types of clouds affect the atmosphere below them in a polluted environment?

I am working through this problem on my own as well, but am feeling that some perspective is in order. So, ignoring the obvious effects where precipitation will wash stuff out of the air, and blocking ...
Jezibelle's user avatar
  • 419
10 votes
1 answer
316 views

Does this optical phenomenon have a name?

Last summer, I snuck out with a row boat around 4am. Eventually with the sun risen but still quite low in the horizon, I was rowing in the middle of the absolutely still lake when I witnessed an ...
user158589's user avatar
10 votes
1 answer
194 views

Noctilucent clouds and anthropogenic climate change

In reading about observing noctilucent clouds, several articles about this phenomena, such as Science Daily's Spectacular 'Night-shining' Clouds Could Be A Harbinger Of Climate Change, suggest that ...
user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
637 views

Can overshooting tops enter the stratosphere, or will they rather push the tropopause upward?

Convective overshooting tops reach above the normally horizontal flat layer of the convective system, a layer that should coincide with the tropopause. If we have such an overshooting top, does this ...
gerrit's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
228 views

Where does the symmetry of cloudy bands come from?

Reading Meteorology Fundamentals by Sylvie Malardel, it says: We observe a symmetry of the cloudy bands with respect to the rotation axis of Earth and between Northern Hemisphere and Southern ...
Chirac's user avatar
  • 924
9 votes
1 answer
147 views

What cloud formation is this?

I thought it may be mammatus, but the absence of the hanging down "udders" made me doubt.
John Codling's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
250 views

What type of clouds are these?

I would appreciate some help in identifying these clouds: This was taken on a commercial plane flying between Hong Kong and Japan on the 31st of March around 2pm. I tried looking up cloud types but ...
kitsu333's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
3k views

Is there a seasonal difference in the average cloud floor?

It always looks like clouds are so much higher in the sky (altitude) in the summer than in the winter. Is that true? If not, is there some sort of optical illusion? If so, why is that? I live in Iowa,...
viggity's user avatar
  • 91
8 votes
5 answers
1k views

Why do clouds dissipate when mixing with dry air?

So if dry air is just low humidity, meaning it has the capacity to hold more water vapour, it should make sense that the water droplets from the clouds will just evaporate and fill that dry air with ...
Miah Tayen's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
364 views

Are these clouds exhibiting gravity waves?

This is a GOES visible channel image from 2017-01-27, about 9 a.m. local time. It's the Atlantic coast of the US. The coast is visible towards the bottom of the image. The scale is large. This ...
John's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
1k views

What atmospheric phenomenon am I seeing in this photo?

On a trip to Brighton, England on April 12th, 2015, I noticed this strange plume in the sky over the English Channel at about 13:00 hours. It looks like; Something that fell out of the sky - the news ...
Jongosi's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
2 answers
841 views

Where can we see the noctilucent clouds?

I saw many pictures of noctilucent clouds in the UK. Is it a phenomenon only visible in the UK or we can see it somewhere else?
Archa's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
2 answers
498 views

What mechanism leads to these spectacular iridescent patterns in clouds labeled as a "Fire Rainbow"?

The 21-Feb-2016 BBC new article Singapore 'fire rainbow' cloud phenomenon lights up sky shows several photos of a rainbow-like iridescence in clouds on a sunny day in Singapore (about 1.3 degrees ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 7,072
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

How are 'Morning Glory' clouds maintained?

Reading the Physics.SE question What is the current physical theory of what causes the 'Morning Glory' roll cloud over Northern Australia? (pictured below): Image source: NASA Astronomy picture of ...
user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
12k views

Clouds moving in opposite directions

Today driving to work I saw a small, isolated horse's mane cloud at about 2000 feet. Directly above it was a small strato-cumulous cloud at 4000 feet and and they were moving in opposite directions. ...
Tyler Durden's user avatar
  • 1,804
8 votes
1 answer
444 views

Difference between sulfuric clouds and sulfuric haze (on Venus)?

In a conversation in comments below this answer to the question in Space Exploration Could we see the surface of Venus after the explosion of a H-bomb in its atmosphere? we're speculating about what ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 7,072
8 votes
1 answer
432 views

"New" cloud types: Can they be used as markers for climate change observations?

This question was originally posted on Physics SE, (now deleted) but I think this community is a better fit. This article "New" type of Clouds, reports that a revision to the International Cloud ...
StudyStudy's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
631 views

What is this narrow band of clouds?

I came across a narrow streak of clouds in Asia when playing with Google Earth. Does anyone know what that is?
Code42's user avatar
  • 173
7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Relationship between illuminance and cloud cover

Is there a clear formula or table relating the illuminance in (lux) to status of the sky in terms of cloud cover? For example, mostly cloudy would be 2000-3000 lux.
John sebestian's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
12k views

Which clouds can produce lighting and thunder?

There are several number of cloud types, but I only know that cumulonimbus clouds discharge electricity, which in turn produces thunder and lightning. Is this type of cloud (cumulonimbus) the only ...
bashir ali's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
391 views

What are the advantages in looking at an OLR map versus looking at IR satellite imagery?

Conceptually they seem to be showing the same information. But in the context of a Madden Julien Oscillation (MJO) or equatorial waves especially over the equatorial oceanic layers which one is more ...
user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
100 views

What kind of clouds did Joseph Kittinger see at 102,000 ft?

When Joseph Kittinger in Excelsior III dwelt at his peak altitude of 102,000 ft (31 km), he reportedly saw clouds at his altitude. What in the world could these clouds have been? Polar stratospheric ...
Giovanni's user avatar
  • 121
7 votes
1 answer
231 views

Strangely bright morning twilight over Switzerland

Yesterday morning (04.11.2014) I woke up at 6:40 as usual and noticed that it was relatively bright out. I had a better look around 7 and concluded that it was definitely quite a bit brighter than it ...
overactor's user avatar
  • 171
7 votes
1 answer
437 views

What reflects UV radiation more: stratus clouds or cumulus clouds?

Interested in this since I sometimes look down on the clouds in the plane, and wonder if some of the reflected UV-A radiation might damage my eyes.
InquilineKea's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
526 views

What factors influence cloud height and type?

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 ...
Araleigh Maureen Cranch's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
565 views

Why does Earth's atmosphere have a whiter color near the horizon?

Why does Earth's atmosphere have a whiter color (paler) near the horizon? (on a clear, cloudless day when the sun is highest in the sky)? The amount of air being greater in this direction, why is the ...
Sebastyen Laroche's user avatar