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High Clouds - Windows to the Universe

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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
Cirrocumulus clouds are part of the high cloud group. When cirrocumulus clouds look like this picture, it is called a "mackerel sky" because the clouds look like the scales on a mackerel fish.
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Courtesy of UCAR Digital Image Library

High Clouds

The high cloud group consists of Cirrus, Cirrostratus, and Cirrocumulus clouds. The prefix cirro- means 'high.' High clouds consist of primarily ice crystals due to the cold air in the upper troposphere. The base of a high cloud above the surface can be anywhere from 6000-18000m in the tropics to 3000-8000m in the polar regions.

Last modified September 25, 2007 by Becca Hatheway.

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