How do clouds float? I have read somewhere that an average cumulus cloud contains 500 tons of water. How does it still stay afloat in the air? Something about this much water casually floating in the air just doesn’t sit right with me.

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How do clouds float? I have read somewhere that an average cumulus cloud contains 500 tons of water. How does it still stay afloat in the air? Something about this much water casually floating in the air just doesn’t sit right with me.

In: 41

How can a ship float on water when the ship weighs so much?

Because it’s not how much you weigh, it’s how dense you are.

Clouds are less dense than the surrounding air.

a cloud is not a big mass of liquid water, rather its numerous tiny droplets(or in some cases ice crystals) of water all floating around next to each other, but not touching. air currents are not trying to lift 500 tons at once, but rather 500 tons spread out over countless near-weightless drops

The overall weight doesn’t matter. Clouds are less dense than surrounding air, so they can “float” in the air. Similar to how oil can “float” on water.

The more dense stuff is brought closer to the center of whatever it is you are talking about, in this case the planet. The solids are the most dense and are closest to the center of Earth. Next, you got the oceans and liquid water is sitting on top of the the solids. So far so good it all makes sense? if not let me know. Finally on the top, you have the gasses which are more difficult for us to see so it doesn’t make too much sense BUT there are other gasses up there besides water vapor.

There is a LOT of oxygen and nitrogen gas in the air. It basically is the air. There really isn’t that much water vapor (water as a gas) in the air compared to the oxygen and nitrogen so it is less dense. It floats up in the air where there is less oxygen/nitrogen. BUT as water continues to evaporate it will add to the clouds. When you get too much water, it’ll turn to a liquid and at that point is more dense than the oxygen nitrogen gas and it will fall back down. (Enter Rain).

It is kinda like if you had oil in a glass and you added water to it, the water would sink to the bottom because it is more dense, there is more water in the area than oil so the oil will start floating to the top.

OR if you had a pot of only water and you were heating that water up in the pot, the bottom of the pot would be the hottest because it is where the pot and hot stove touch. The bottom of the pot is where the liquid water would be the hottest since it is closest to the stove and it is the water at the bottom that breaks apart into water vapor and spread out as a gas (the bubbles that form at the bottom of the pot when it starts to boil.) then that water vapor AKA gas is now less dense than the liquid so it floats to the top.

Think of clouds like the steam that comes out of the kettle. How does the steam float away? Because it’s less dense/lighter than the surrounding air, all the droplets of water floating away are teeny tiny. A cloud is just a collection of tiny droplets like that, floating around and being pushed through the sky by wind currents. Sooner or later, the tiny bits of water will combine and create larger droplets which will then be too heavy to individually remain afloat, and they fall to the earth.