Clouds are usually seen every single day. Sometimes called “the decorations of the sky,” clouds can come in a variety of shapes and sizes; the main kinds include stratus, cumulus and cirrus. From white puffy clouds to dark storm clouds, these natural masses of nature differ substantially depending on the weather conditions around them. Yet, all clouds are formed out of tiny water droplets—even clouds that are not rainclouds are made of water! This happens as a result of water on earth evaporating into the sky and condensing once high up in the cool air. Hence, clouds are part of the “water cycle” which is essential to the ecosystem as a whole. Clouds can even contain millions of tons of water.
Aside from their scientific importance, clouds also have a lot of visual appeal. They are usually considered to be very beautiful so they are also frequently depicted in artwork, children’s television shows (such as “The Care Bears”) and even home décor. Moreover, many people make a game out of finding shapes in the clouds. Hence, clouds are an integral part of life on earth. Below are a few facts about clouds:
• Rain, snow, sleet and hail falling from clouds are called precipitation.
• Most clouds form in the troposphere (the lowest part of Earth’s atmosphere) but occasionally they are observed as high as the stratosphere or mesosphere.
• Stratus clouds are flat and featureless, appearing as layered sheets.
• Other planets in our Solar System have clouds. Venus has thick clouds of sulfur-dioxide
And Jupiter and Saturn have clouds of ammonia.
• Cumulus clouds are puffy, like cotton floating in the sky.
• Cirrus clouds are thin and wispy, appearing high in the sky.
• There are many variations of these 3 main cloud types including stratocumulus, altostratus, altocumulus, cirrostratus and cirrocumulus.
• Fog is stratus type of cloud that appears very close to the ground.
• Clouds can also be made of other chemicals.