Looking up at the sky, we can see the clouds always present in it. Clouds can be larger or smaller, higher or lower or in multiple ways and, although some do not like their presence (especially in summer), the truth is that they are essential for life on our planet to have developed and continue to do so, as they are a source of water for our earth, as well as for the different aquatic bodies such as rivers, lakes, seas or oceans.
In this AgroCorrn article, we answer the questions about what clouds are and how they form .
What are clouds
The surface of our planet is made up of 70% of water distributed in seas, rivers, lakes and ponds, but a part of this is always in the clouds and this is part of the well-known water cycle . To better inform you about it, in this other article we explain in detail the Distribution of water in the world .
In summary, clouds are hydrometeors (made up of water droplets) and they have a very important function for life on the planet, because at the end of the day it is the same to talk about the importance of water. In this other AgroCorrn article we tell you the Importance of water for the planet and the human being .
How clouds form – the process
This is the process of cloud formation :
- The water is heated by energy from the Sun , causing the evaporation of large amounts of water from the seas, oceans, rivers and lakes.
- Parallel to this process, plants on our planet also absorb moisture from the ground and emit water vapor into the atmosphere. It is estimated, for example, that an apple tree emits about 6,800 liters of water every six months (varies according to conditions).
- The air that absorbs this moisture becomes humid and hot air (humid air absorbs more heat) and rises towards the highest layers of the atmosphere, cooling during its ascent.
- At a point, this water vapor condenses , forming microscopic droplets.
Thus, clouds are made up of drops of water . While the process can vary in some cases, for example when a hot, humid air mass rises along the slope of a mountain, it cools and condenses to form clouds. This is the main reason why clouds are frequent in high mountains.
The main types of clouds
Clouds are distinguished from each other by their shape, magnitude, and color. This mainly defines 3 classes of clouds :
- Cumulus: they are clouds that have a swollen appearance (cumulus means heap) and originate due to ascending air currents. The most common is that their formation takes place during the day and at night they end up dissolving. Despite their bloated appearance, they are an indicator of good weather.
- Strata: they are clouds that have an elongated, horizontal and grayish appearance
- Cirrus clouds : they are clouds with a light and subtle appearance and a whitish color. They are clouds that are formed by ice crystals and are located at very high levels in the atmosphere, above 7,500 meters.
However, many of the clouds that are observed in the sky, have intermediate characteristics to these types: they differ into cirrocumulus, cirrostratus and stratocumulus . Furthermore, the term nimbus is applied to clouds that carry rain. Although cumulus clouds are generally signs of good weather, they are called cumulonimbus when they are heavy with rain. When it is the strata that are loaded with rain, they are called nimbostratus. In addition, depending on the winds, high, medium or low clouds are differentiated :
They are clouds that originate at heights between 7 km and 13 km in the atmosphere. These clouds do not form precipitation, but they can indicate a change in weather. Among the high clouds, we can find cirrus clouds, cirrocumulus or cirrostratus.
They are clouds that form at heights between 3 km and 6 km and do not cause precipitation, that is, they are those clouds that totally or partially cover the sky. Also, the middle clouds are uniform in appearance.
They are clouds that form below 3 km and are the ones that cause precipitation if they are very low. They are clouds of vertical development, among which we can find strata, cumulus and cumulonimbus. This type of cloud has a cottony appearance.
If you are interested in learning more about clouds, we recommend that you learn more with AgroCorrn with this other article on Why do few clouds form in desert areas?
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