Meteorologically, a cloud is described as an aerosol consist of a visible mass of frozen crystals or liquid droplets, both of which are usually made of water or other various chemicals. The particles or droplets are suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body. Earth clouds are formed by air saturation in the homosphere (that includes the mesosphere, the stratosphere, and troposphere) when air gains or cools water vapor. The clouds science is nephology that’s undertaken in the cloud physics-branch of meteorology.
Types of cloud in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer nearest to a surface of Earth, have Latin names because of universal adaptation of nomenclature of Luke Howard. It was officially proposed in late 1802 and published (first time) the next year. It eventually became a solid foundation of a present international system which classifies these tropospheric aerosols into 5 physical forms; stratocumuliform, stratiform, cirriform, cumulonimbiform, and cumuliform. Many of these forms are situated in the low, middle, and high altitude levels or the etages of the troposphere , even though cirriform clouds only happen in a high altitude range. The etages and forms are further cross-classified to create 10 basic genera or genus-types. Therefore, a cloud genus can be defined as a physical form which is peculiar to a given etage, or simultaneously to over one etage if the genus-type has substantial vertical extent. Many genera can be divided into species which are further subdivided into varieties where necessary.
Interestingly, cloud cover has been seen on several other planets in our solar system. Thick clouds of Venus consist of sulfur dioxide and seem to be almost entirely stratiform. They’re arranged in 3 major layers at altitudes of 45-65 km which obscure the surface of the planet and can form virga. No embedded cumuliform kinds have been recognized, but broken the stratocumuliform wave formations are occasionally seen in the top layer which reveals additional continuous layer clouds below. On Mars, stratocumulus, cirrocumulus, and cirrus composed of water-ice have been spotted commonly close to the poles. Also, water-ice fogs have been seen on this planet.
Clouds which form higher up in the mesosphere and stratosphere have common names for their primary types but are further classified (sub-categories) alpha-numerically rather than the ordinary system of Latin names given to types of cloud in the troposphere. They’re relatively rare and are majorly seen in the polar areas of Earth. Clouds have been seen on moons and other planets within the Solar System, but, due to their dissimilar temperature characteristics, they’re usually composed of other substances such as sulfuric acid, ammonia, and methane as well as water.
Here are more interesting cloud facts:
1. It takes less than one hour for clouds to be created.
2. There are three categories of clouds based on their height from the cloud-high clouds, medium clouds, and low clouds.
3. Loud clouds usually made up of water droplets. They have a base under 2,000 meters.
4. Medium clouds usually comprise of water droplets, and its base exists between 2,000 and 7,000 meters.
5. High clouds usually consist of ice crystals, and its base exists between 5,500 and 14,000 meters.
6. Planet Saturn has clouds. Moon or any planet with an atmosphere has clouds.
7. Clouds always appear white since they reflect sunlight.
8. Clouds develop horizontally or vertically.