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Clouds are found at different heights in the sky.
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Courtesy of Becca Hatheway/UCAR

Clouds are Found at Different Heights

The different types of clouds we see in the sky are located at different heights in the sky.

The high cloud group is made up of cirrus, cirrocumulus, and cirrostratus clouds. These clouds are made up of either ice crystals (but they are sometimes made up of water droplets). Ice clouds look wispier than water clouds.

The middle cloud group is made up of altocumulus and altostratus clouds. These are usually water clouds.

The low cloud group is made up of stratocumulus, cumulus, stratus, cumulonimbus, and nimbostratus clouds. These clouds are made of water droplets. Cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds can be very tall, with their tops as high as middle or high level clouds, but their bases are as low as the other low clouds.

For tips on how to tell how high a cloud is in the sky, look for clues on each cloud type page. Also, the same type of cloud will be at a different height in the sky at different latitudes on Earth. Check out the cloud heights by latitude page.

The clouds in the figure on this page are found in the troposphere, which is the lowest layer in the atmosphere and is where weather happens. This diagram shows the different layers of the atmosphere.

Last modified May 21, 2009 by Becca Hatheway.

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