Clouds: Introduction and Types

  • Clouds are defined as aggregate of in numeration tiny water droplets, ice particles or a mixture of both in the air generally much above the ground surface.
  • Clouds are formed due to the condensation of water vapor around hygroscopic nuclei caused by cooling due to lifting of air generally known as adiabatic cooling.

Types of Clouds:

Clouds are generally classified on the basis of their form, general shape, structure, vertical extent and height. Based on the average height, clouds are classified into 4 types:
  1. High clouds
  2. Middle clouds
  3. Low clouds
  4. Multi-layered clouds
will see each of these below in detail.
Cloud types
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

1. High clouds (Above 7 km)


Cirrus clouds are feathery, wispy for formations made up of very minute ice crystals. Cirrus clouds reveal the presence of moisture at great heights and may indicate an onset of bad weather.


High altitude clouds are made up of tiny ice crystals. Cirrostratus clouds have a thin-layered formation through which the sun's rays pass, creating a halo-like effect. They indicate a rainy spell.


These high-altitude clouds are formed when two layers of clouds move in directions opposite to each other. They also indicate unsettled weather.

2. Middle Clouds (Above 2-7 km)


These are thick, fluffy, middle altitude clouds that are patchy white and grey in color. though they look like cirrocumulus clouds. Altocumulus clouds indicate sunny spells.


These clusters of bluish-grey clouds indicate that there may be rain ahead.

3. Low clouds (Below 2 km)


These thick low altitude clouds are usually puffy and have very distinct edges and a noticeable vertical development. they look like heaped-up cotton and have interesting shapes. They indicate sunny weather.


These low altitude clouds are responsible for dull, gloomy, overcast days and they indicate rainy weather.

Multi-layered Clouds (Rainy Clouds)


Though often considered as low clouds, Nimbostratus clouds are actually multilayered clouds, as their vertical extent goes well into the middle cloud region and they often have taller cumulonimbus clouds embedded with them, found at a height up to 2000m. These dark grey rain or snow-bearing clouds cover the sky so completely that one cannot see the sun. They indicate a long spell of heavy rain or snow.


These clouds produce lightning, thunder, heavy rain, hail, strong winds and tornadoes. the tallest among all clouds, cumulonimbus clouds span all cloud layers and extent above 2000m. they usually have large anvil-shaped tops, which form because of the stronger winds at the higher levels of the atmosphere.

Post a Comment