A scientific guide to clouds, even the ones that look like udders

Monday, May 29, 2023 - 23:03 in Physics & Chemistry

Mammatus clouds over St Mary's Lighthouse in England. Moo. Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images When you look up at the clouds, what do you see? A blob, a wisp, perhaps an elephant-shaped clump. It’s fun to get creative with the descriptions, but scientists have a formal classification system that can be useful to the everyday cloud watcher, too. We’ve made a field guide to types of clouds, so next time you’re enjoying a day outside, you can put your newfound knowledge of the skies to work. What’s in clouds and their names? Clouds are made up of droplets of water or tiny ice crystals floating in the planet’s atmosphere. They hold clues about the weather—like if it’s going to rain, snow, or worse—and the interesting physical and chemical cycles churning through the...

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