what gives different types of clouds their shape?

2.71K views

what gives different types of clouds their shape?

In: Chemistry

4 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

There’s basically two types of cloud: stratus (flat) and cumulus (cauliflower).

Stratus form when the air is moist and stable. If a layer of the atmosphere has more water than it can hold, the water condenses to droplets within the layer. If they leave the layer, the slight difference in temperature or pressure is enough to evaporate them.

Cumulus forms when the atmosphere is moist and unstable. Heating from underneath causes a parcel of air to rise which, in turn causes it to expand and cool. This causes the water in the air to condense. If the air is very unstable, it can punch through the tropopause and into the upper level winds causing the distinctive shape of a thunderhead (cumulonimbus).

The regular lines and patterns are arrangements of those clouds. They form for several reasons. First, the atmosphere has waves like the ocean. so if a layer of cloud is almost right for stratus, the pattern of pressure changes from the waves can cause it to condense in the same regular pattern. Another reason is that the clouds self organize in certain ways. In a cumulus, the air around the outside of the cloud is descending while the air in the middle is rising (a circular convective cell). if another cell forms right beside it, the descending air from the two cells works together to reinforce the pattern. A fairly extreme example of this is a squall line where each cell actually starts the next one creating a line of thunderstorms, each more developed than the last.

You are viewing 1 out of 4 answers, click here to view all answers.