Photograph of cumulus clouds in the mountains of Colorado.
Click on image for full size
Courtesy of Lisa Gardiner
Clouds are the pretty white fluffs you see in the sky. They are made up of
tiny water drops. Sometimes, if the wind is fast enough, you
can even watch the clouds move.
Clouds can come in all sizes and shapes and are formed by different processes. They can be
near the ground or way up high. Ever wonder what different types of clouds are called?
Different types of clouds cause different kinds of
weather. Sometimes clouds get dark and scary looking when a thunderstorm or tornado has formed.
At any given time, about half of Earth is covered by clouds. We would
not have rain, rainbows, or snow
without clouds. Clouds make up some of the atmospheric optics we can see in the sky. The atmosphere
would be boring if the sky was always blue!
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
A cloud is composed of tiny water droplets or ice crystals. A series of things have to happen in order for these water droplets or ice crystals to form into clouds in the atmosphere, and different types...more
Thunderstorms are one of the most exciting and dangerous types of weather. Over 40,000 thunderstorms happen around the world each day. Thunderstorms form when very warm, moist air rises into cold air....more
Raindrops form when tiny water droplets collide together in clouds to form bigger ones. When they get too heavy, rain falls out of the clouds. Rain is more than 5mm in diameter. The types of clouds that...more
Rainbows appear in the sky when there is bright sunlight and rain. Sunlight is known as visible or white light and is actually a mixture of colors. The sun's rays pass through millions of raindrops. A...more
Have you ever seen clouds in the sky that looked different than "normal" clouds? Or have you wondered why rainbows form? Sometimes the things we see in the sky look very colorful or unique. Atmospheric...more
The white streaks you see coming off airplanes are called contrails. That is short for “condensation trail.” Contrails are actually clouds made by airplanes. An airplane's exhaust has some water vapor...more
Lenticular clouds form near the tops of mountains. Wind blows most types of clouds across the sky, but lenticular clouds look like they stay in one place. As this photo on this page shows, lenticular clouds...more