Clouds form at a multitude of different shapes and sizes, their infinite combinations and standing across the sky offer a visual drama in reaction to the light conditions. But despite their apparent randomness, a thorough naming convention is set up to categorise them. When a cloud finally cannot be fitted to among the many existing classes, it might be nominated for a classification of its own. And I functioned as part of a small team exploring the science behind one recently categorised cloud, Asperitas, that exhibits wave such as perturbations, reminiscent of a rough sea at its foundation of the cloud.
Clouds are termed using a Latin based system proposed by Luke Howard at 1803, that laid the bases for its WMO cloud atlas in 1939. Clouds are separated into ten fundamental genera, which are shown in the picture below, and are described by their shape and elevation. For example, Cumulus, by the Latin for heaped or puffed, clarifies clouds with a cotton wool appearance. Stratus clarifies a low level coating cloud with a uniform, even foundation that covers a lot of the sky. Nimbus means rain bearing, therefore a cloud known as Nimbostratus is a layer cloud which generates rain or, occasionally, snow.
Beyond the basic types offered by the genera, clouds could be sub categorised to several species and types that, consequently, can also exhibit additional capabilities. This results in very precise descriptions of the clouds. For instance, In the diagram below you will find four Cumulus clouds: is Cumulus humilis, that is a kind of cumulus having a short vertical extent, is Cumulus radiatus, a wide range of cumulus arranged into lines throughout the sky, and are Cumulus congestus species formed because of deep convection.
However, has a coating cloud at the top, known as Pileus, that is a further supplementary feature. Why the fuss? The WMO cloud atlas has just been updated 3 times at its 79 years, at 1975, 1987 and, most lately, 2017. Consequently, it’s rare to have a brand new cloud recognised. Why, then, is it important to make additions? Read more: Six clouds you ought to know about and what they can uncover About its weather – Clouds provide an indication of its current state of its air and cloud type is reported by weather observers worldwide. Atmospheric observatories have long term weather information for at least one hundred years, that are essential for learning about changes at our climate.
Consequently, having a thorough and up-to date identification system for clouds is very important in describing weather and climate. These rare updates happen for two numerous reasons.
First, some of the recently classified clouds, like Cirrus homogenitus, known commonly as contrails, only have been present since its age of its airliner. These additions to its cloud atlas, then, show human effects on its atmosphere. Second of all, using the advent of smartphone technology, the chances for its public to observe and share images of cloud formations has rapidly increased.