Everything You Need to Know About Clouds

types of clouds presentation

  • Georgia State University
  • Young Harris College
  • Conservation

Cloud Genera

Cloud species, accessory clouds, special clouds, supplementary cloud features.

We stare at clouds all the time, whether trying to figure out what they look like or if they're bringing rain. Yet most of us know very little about clouds, let alone how to identify them.

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) keeps a cloud atlas that divides clouds into genera, species and varieties. Some clouds have multiple "varieties" and some have "accessory" clouds that appear with or merge with bigger clouds. Specific conditions can even create special clouds of their own.

In short, clouds are a rich tapestry in the sky that changes every day.

These are the 10 most typical forms clouds take. The WMO notes that the definitions don't encompass all possible cloud permutations, but they do outline the essential traits to differentiate one cloud genus from another, especially those having similar appearances.

1. Cirrus. Cirrus clouds are wispy and hair-like, and when viewed from below, they appear to have little to no structure. Inside, cirrus clouds are comprised almost entirely of ice crystals.

2. Cirrocumulus. Cirrocumulus clouds are similar to a well-worn basic sheet: thin and white. These clouds also have super-cooled water droplets within them. Technically, each individual cloud is referred to as cirrocumulus, but the term can also be used to refer to the entire sheet. If the term is used that way, each individual cloud is a cloudlet.

3. Cirrostratus. Cirrostratus clouds are a white-ish veil that totally or partially covers the sky. They often produce the halo effect you see above.

4. Altocumulus. Altocumulus clouds come in several forms, though they mostly look like rounded masses. They can can appear as a sheet or a layer, like the above image.

5. Altostratus. This cloud sheet completely covers the sky, but will have sections thin enough that reveal the sun, "as through ground glass or frosted glass," according to the WMO. Unlike cirrostratus clouds, there is no halo produced.

6. Nimbostratus. While they don't have many distinct features, nimbostratus clouds are a gray cloud layer. They're thicker than altostratus clouds, and their bases often produce rain or snow.

7. Stratocumulus. Characterized by dark, rounded masses, stratoculumus clouds appear either as a uniform sheet or layer, or they have a corrugated base.

8. Stratus. Stratus clouds are gray layers, sometimes with variances in their luminescence. If the sun is out, its brightness can help you to see the outline of the clouds. The bases of stratus clouds will produce light snow or drizzle.

9. Cumulus. Quintessential clouds, cumulus clouds are detached and dense. The parts lit by sunlight are bright white while their bases tend to be a uniform dark color.

10. Cumulonimbus. Cumulonimbus clouds are heavy and dense, with often tall, vertical towers. They're referred to as thunderheads if they're observed during a storm. They're capable of producing lightning and tornadoes.

Cloud genera are divided into species to account for their particular shape and internal structure. Certain species only appear within specific genera, but many species are common to multiple genera. Clouds are identified by their genus and then their species, e.g., cirrius fibratus or altocumulus stratiformis.

1. Fibratus. A thin veil of clouds, fibratus clouds are either cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Unlike most cirrus clouds, however, fibratus clouds do not have tufts or hooks at the end, and the strands are clearly separate from one another.

2. Uncinus. This species of cirrus cloud is distinct for its hook-at-the-end feature.

3. Spissatus. A species of cirrus clouds, spisstaus clouds are the densest cirrus clouds you'll see. They're even able to hide the sun if they're dense enough.

4. Castellanus. This species of cloud appears in cirrus, cirrocumulus, attocumulus and stratocumulus clouds. The tops of castellanus clouds form turrets, which give it that castle-like appearance.

5. Floccus. These clouds have small tufts at their tops with a ragged base. They often have a virga, or streak of precipitation, trailing after the tuft. The species manifests as cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus (pictured) and stratocumulus clouds.

6. Stratiformis. A species found in altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds, stratiformis clouds are an extensive layer or sheet of their particular cloud.

7. Nebulosus. This cloud species, found among stratus and cirrostratus clouds, is a veil without any distinct details.

8. Lenticularis. Appearing primarily as cirrocumulus, altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds, lenticularis clouds appear in almond- or lens-shaped arrangements. This also makes lenticularis clouds great as UFOs.

9. Volutus. It's hard to miss volutus clouds. Also known as roll clouds due to their distinct shape and movement, volutus clouds are typically stratocumulus clouds and are completely separated from any other clouds.

10. Fractus. As their name implies, fractus clouds are stratus and cumulus clouds that have ragged, irregular shreds. These clouds have often broken away from another, larger cloud.

11. Humilis. A species of cumulus clouds, humilis clouds are generally fairly flat as opposed to taller ordinary cumulus clouds.

12. Mediocris. Another cumulus species, mediocris clouds are a bit taller than humilis clouds.

13. Congestus. Congestus clouds are the tallest species of cumulus clouds. They have sharp outlines and cauliflower-like tops.

14. Calvus. Cumulonimbus clouds have two species, and the calvus is one of them. It's a moderately tall cloud with rounded tops but still with grooves or channels in them that direct the flow of air.

15. Capillatus. The second species of cumulonimbus clouds, capillatus clouds have a flat, anvil-like structure near the top, with a mass of "hair" on top of it.

If we drill down further, the large scale arrangement of clouds give the genera and species a wide variety of presentation. Some clouds can exhibit multiple varieties at once, so the varieties are not mutually exclusive to one another, and many genera have a number of varieties. The exceptions to this are translucidus and opacus varieties; they cannot occur at the same time.

1. Intortus. This variety of cirrus clouds has irregularly curved and twisted filaments.

2. Vertebratus. Have you ever seen a cloud that looked like a fish skeleton? It was almost certainly a vertebratus cirrus cloud.

3. Undulatus. These sheets or layers of clouds display a wavy pattern. You can find undulatus varieties in cirrocumulus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, altostratus, stratocumulus and stratus clouds.

4. Radiatus. The bands of these separated clouds run parallel to one another and appear to merge on the horizon. Look for them when you spot cirrus, altocumulus (pictured), altostratus, stratocumulus and cumulus clouds.

5. Lacunosus. This cloud variety appears mostly in relation to cirrocumulus and altocumulus clouds. It is marked with small holes in the cloud layer, like a net or honeycomb.

6. Duplicatus. These layers of cirrus, cirrostratus, altocumulus, altostratus or stratocumulus clouds appear in at least two slightly different layers.

7. Translucidus. A large sheet of clouds — either altocumulus, altostratus (pictured), stratocumulus and stratus — that is translucent enough to allow the sun or the moon to shine through.

8. Perlucidus. Yet another variety of clouds in a sheet, these altocumulus and stratocumulus clouds have small spaces between each cloudlet that result in a visible sky.

9. Opacus. The opposite of the previous two varieties, these cloud layers are opaque enough to hide the sun or moon. This variety is found among altocumulus, altostratus (pictured), stratocumulus and stratus clouds.

As their name implies, accessory clouds are smaller clouds associated with a larger cloud. They may be partially connected or separate from the main cloud.

1. Pileus. A small cap or hood that appears above the top of a cumulus and cumulonimbus cloud.

2. Velum. This veil is close above or attached to cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds.

3. Pannus. Appearing mostly along the bottoms of altostratus, nimbostratus, cumulus and cumulonimbus clouds, these are ragged shreds of the cloud that make up a continuous layer.

4. Flumen. These are bands of low clouds associated with supercell storm clouds, typically cumulonimbus. Some flumen clouds can resemble beaver tails due to their broad, flat appearances.

Some clouds only form as a result of localized conditions or due to human activity.

1. Flammagenitus. These clouds develop as a result of forest fires, wildfires and volcanic eruptions.

2. Homogenitus. If you've ever driven by a factory with a kid and they've shouted "Cloud factory!", they have identified homogenitus clouds. This type of special cloud covers a range of man-made clouds, including rising thermals from power plants.

3. Aircraft condensation trails. Contrails are a special type of the homogenitus special cloud. They must have persisted for 10 minutes to be dubbed cirrus homogenitus.

4. Homomutatus. If contrails persist and begin to grow and spread over a period of time thanks to strong winds, they become homomutatus clouds.

5. Cataractagenitus. These clouds form near waterfalls, the result of water broken up into a spray by the falls.

6. Silvagenitus. Clouds may form over a forest as the result of increased humidity and evaporation.

The final bit of cloud identification involves supplementary features that are attached to or merged with the cloud.

1. Incus. The spread-out, anvil-like portion at the top of a cumulonimbus cloud.

2. Mamma. Those hanging protuberances are called mamma, and they appear along the bottom of cirrus, cirrocumulus, altocumulus, altostratus, stratocumulus and cumulonimbus clouds.

3. Virga. If a cirrocumulus, altocumulus, altostratus, nimbostratus, stratocumulus, cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud looks a bit like a jellyfish, chances are they have a virga feature. These are precipitation trails, or fallstreaks, and the precipitation never reaches the Earth's surface.

4. Praecipitatio. If that precipitation makes it to Earth, however, then you have a praecipitatio feature on an altostratus, nimbostratus, stratocumulus, stratus, cumulus and cumulonimbus cloud.

5. Arcus. These cumulonimbus clouds (and sometimes cumulus) feature dense horizontal rolls with tattered edges along the front. When the arcus feature is extensive, the roll can have a "dark, menacing arch."

6. Tuba. This cone protrudes from the cloud base and is the marker of a intense vortex. Like arcus clouds, tubas appear most often with cumulonimbus and sometimes with cumulus.

7. Asperitas. While they look like undulatus clouds, asperitas supplementary clouds are more chaotic and less horizontal. Still, these supplementary clouds for stratocumulus and altocumulus clouds make it look like the sky has become a rough and choppy sea.

8. Fluctus. These are short-lived, wave-looking supplementary clouds that appear with cirrus, altocumulus, stratocumulus, stratus and sometimes cumulus clouds.

9. Cavum. Also known as a fallstreak hole, cavum are supplementary clouds for altocumulus and cirrocumulus clouds. They're formed when the water temperature in the cloud is below freezing but the water itself has not frozen yet. When the ice does eventually form, water droplets around the crystals evaporate, leaving the large ring. Interaction with aircraft can result in a straight line cavum instead of a circular one.

10. Murus. Typically associated with supercell storms, murus (or wall clouds) develop in the rain-free portions of cumulonimbus clouds. They mark a place of strong updraft from which tornadoes can sometimes form.

11. Cauda. Cauda are an accessory cloud to an accessory cloud, appearing alongside murus clouds. These horizontal, tail-like clouds are attached to the murus, and they are roughly the same height. They should not be confused with a funnel.

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Types of Clouds - Google Slides Presentation

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types of clouds presentation


This Google Slides presentation introduces students to the three major types of clouds, as well as characteristics, combinations, and fog.

  • This presentation is structured to answer the following questions:
  • What are clouds? What are the types of clouds?
  • What are the characteristics of cumulus clouds?
  • What are the characteristics of cirrus clouds?
  • What are the characteristics of stratus clouds?
  • What do -nimbus and alto- mean? What is some common cloud?
  • What is fog?
  • I think this is best taught over the course of two-three days.
  • There are several video links throughout which reinforce cloud types and key concepts, plus a review section at the end.
  • There are Cornell guided notes available that accompany this product available in a bundle. The guided notes are fill-in-the-blank.
  • This was designed for 6-7th grade, but I think it can appropriately be used in 4th through 10th depending on your standards.
  • Please note: Although listed as a PowerPoint in the resource type, this is actually a Google Slides presentation. (There is not an option for Google Slides, yet.) If interested, you can also purchase this slideshow in PowerPoint format in my store.

I hope you find this helpful, and that it saves you time as you prepare to teach these concepts.

Keywords: clouds, cumulus, cirrus, stratus, meteorology, Earth Science, presentation, slideshow, PowerPoint, Google Slides, digital activity, technology, standards-based, standards aligned, Google Drive, Google Classroom, Google Apps, Chromebook

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types of clouds

Types of Clouds

Jul 18, 2014

1.17k likes | 3.23k Views

Types of Clouds. Kristian Diore 3 r d Grade Science. Click here to begin!. Click on each cloud to learn more about it!. Cumulus clouds. Cirrus clouds. Stratus clouds. Nimbus clouds. Click here for a review question. Cumulus Clouds. Puffy, white clouds

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Presentation Transcript

Types of Clouds Kristian Diore 3rdGrade Science Click here to begin!

Click on each cloud to learn more about it! Cumulus clouds Cirrus clouds Stratus clouds Nimbus clouds Click here for a review question

Cumulus Clouds • Puffy, white clouds • Look like large cotton balls in the sky • Made of tiny droplets of water • Seen during nice weather Click here for more information on Cumulus Clouds

Cumulus Clouds • How are these clouds formed? • When warm air rises and reaches a level of cool air, the moisture in the air condenses into water droplets Click here to return to main menu

Cirrus Clouds • Most common of the high clouds • Thin, wispy clouds • Form very high in the sky where the air is very cold • Form when wind is strong • Composed of ice crystals • Predict fair to pleasant weather Click here for more information on Cirrus Clouds

Cirrus Clouds • How are these clouds formed? • Due to the extremely cold temperatures, the water droplets freeze into ice crystals • The small amount of moisture causes these clouds to be very thin Click here to return to main menu

Stratus Clouds • Flat, low clouds • Form in layers at low heights • Cover large areas of the sky, blocking sunlight • Can produce a light drizzle or snow • Stratus clouds that form near the ground are called fog Click here for more information on Stratus Clouds

Stratus Clouds • How are these clouds formed? • A sheet of warm, moist air lifts off the ground into cold air Click here to return to main menu

Nimbus Clouds • Dark and gray • Storm clouds • Contain tiny droplets of water that come down in the form of rain, sleet, snow or hail • Can cause thunderstorms and lightning Click here for more information on Nimbus Clouds

Nimbus Clouds • How are these clouds formed? • They carry huge amounts of condensed water droplets • When air cools, water vapor turns into liquid producing visible clouds or ice droplets Click here to return to main menu

Review Question I am a type of cloud that you would not want to see appear in the sky on a hot, summer day while you are in your swimming pool. I might cause a thunderstorm! Which cloud am I? • Stratus • Cumulus • Nimbus • Cirrus

Try Again! Stratus Clouds cover large areas of the sky and may block sunlight, but they are not known for producing thunderstorms! Click here to return to question

Try Again! Cumulus Clouds are the type of clouds you would want to see on a hot, summer day! These clouds are big and puffy and appear during nice weather. Click here to return to question

You are correct! Nimbus Clouds are known as “storm clouds.” You would not want a thunderstorm to happen while you are in your swimming pool! Click here to continue

Try Again! Cirrus Clouds are seen with nice weather. They may appear when it is windy outside, but do not produce thunderstorms or heavy rain! Click here to return to question

Great Job! You have completed this mini lesson on the four main types of clouds. Next time you go outside, look in the sky and try to name the clouds you see! Click on the image below to return to the title slide for the next student!

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Clouds and clouds types

Clouds and clouds types

Subject: Geography

Age range: 14-16

Resource type: Worksheet/Activity

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Last updated

17 March 2018

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New climate study shows cloud cover is easier to affect than previously thought

by Technical University of Denmark)

sun clouds

A new analysis of cloud measurements from outside the coast of California, combined with global satellite measurements, reveals that even aerosol particles as small as 25–30 nanometers may contribute to cloud formation. Hence, the climate impact of small aerosols may be underestimated.

Clouds are among the least understood entities in the climate system and the largest source of uncertainty in predicting future climate change. To describe clouds, you need to understand weather systems on the scale of up to hundreds of kilometers and microphysics down to the scale of molecules.

The new study sheds new light on what happens at the molecular scale, focusing on cloud condensation nuclei in marine stratus clouds—low-level, horizontally layered clouds. The study, " Supersaturation and Critical Size of Cloud Condensation Nuclei in Marine Stratus Clouds ," is published in Geophysical Research Letters .

It is well-known that cloud formation depends on two basic conditions: 1) The atmosphere is supersaturated with water, meaning there is so much water in the air that it can turn liquid, and 2) A seed particle called a cloud condensation nucleus is present, which the water can condense onto.

These seeds must be larger than a critical size for water to condense and form drops, and it is commonly assumed that the critical size is about 60 nanometers or larger.

New climate study: Size matters to sensitive clouds

Scientists from The Technical University of Denmark, the University of Copenhagen, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have investigated this critical size of tiny aerosol particles , or proto seeds. It turns out that a size of 25–30 may be sufficient for them to grow into cloud condensation nuclei.

"Since the proto seeds can be much smaller than previously thought, cloud formation is more sensitive to changes in aerosols than previously thought, especially in pristine areas where marine stratus clouds are dominant," says Henrik Svensmark, a Senior Researcher at DTU Space and lead author of the paper.

Due to a higher supersaturation of water inside the clouds, smaller aerosols are activated into cloud droplets. In simple terms, the more water there is, the easier it can condense and the smaller the seed needs to be.

The study's basis was measurements of marine stratus clouds performed in 2014 by Nevada researchers. These measurements reveal a relationship between the amount of cloud drops and the supersaturation of water in the atmosphere. The measurements, combined with global satellite measurements from the MODIS instrument, allowed the scientists to calculate the cloud drop amount, from which a global map of supersaturation can be found.

Here is the surprise—the supersaturation is generally higher than previously assumed. Since supersaturation determines the critical size of the seed, even tiny seeds can serve as cloud condensation nuclei. Instead of aerosols growing to 60 nm or more, a size of 25–30 nm is sufficient.

"It doesn't look like much, but the implications may be big," says Henrik Svensmark.

"About half of all cloud condensation nuclei are formed by tens of thousands of molecules clumping together one by one, forming an aerosol particle. That takes time; the longer it takes, the larger the risk of getting lost.

"Current models show that due to the growth time, most of the small aerosols are lost before they grow to the critical size, and thus, cloud formation is rather insensitive to changes in the production of small aerosols. Our results change this understanding as aerosols must grow much less, which is important for modeling clouds and climate predictions."

Journal information: Geophysical Research Letters

Provided by Technical University of Denmark)

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Types of clouds

Dhen Bathan

A presentation about clouds for grade 5 Science Read less

types of clouds presentation


More related content, what's hot, what's hot ( 20 ), viewers also liked, viewers also liked ( 20 ), similar to types of clouds, similar to types of clouds ( 20 ), more from dhen bathan, more from dhen bathan ( 20 ), recently uploaded, recently uploaded ( 20 ).

  • 1. Types of Clouds
  • 2. Cirrostratus High clouds
  • 3. Cirrostratus • Transparent whitish veil clouds with a fibrous (hair-like) or smooth appearance. • A sheet of cirrostratus which is very extensive, nearly always ends by covering the whole sky.
  • 4. Cirrocumulus High clouds
  • 5. Cirrocumulus • Thin, white patch, sheet, or layered of clouds without shading. • They are composed of very small elements in the form of more or less regularly arranged grains or ripples.
  • 6. Altostratus Mid clouds
  • 7. Altostratus • Gray or bluish cloud sheets or layers of striated or fibrous clouds that totally or partially covers the sky. • They are thin enough to regularly reveal the sun as if seen through ground glass.
  • 8. Mid clouds Altocumulus
  • 9. Altocumulus • White and/or gray patch, sheet or layered clouds, generally composed of laminae (plates), rounded masses or rolls. • They may be partly fibrous or diffuse.
  • 10. Nimbostratus Mid clouds
  • 11. Nimbostratus • The continuous rain cloud. • This is a dark gray cloud layer diffused by falling rain or snow. • It is thick enough throughout to blot out the sun.
  • 12. Cumulus Low clouds
  • 13. Stratocumulos Low clouds
  • 14. Stratocumulos • Gray or whitish patch, sheet, or layered clouds which almost always have dark tessellations (honeycomb appearance), rounded masses or rolls.
  • 15. Cumulonimbus Low clouds
  • 16. Stratus Low clouds
  • 17. Name each picture 
  • 24. Answers: 1.altocumulos 2.cumulonimbus 3. cirrostratus 4.cumulus 5. cirrocumulus 6. stratocumulus
  • 26. Ref: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/srh/jetstream/clouds/cloudwise/types.html


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