Aside from, maybe, pilots and meteorologists, not many people take an interest in studying any types of facts about cloud formations. Many of them, however, can be extremely interesting. And it’s enough to look towards the sky at the right moment and see the beauty and even bizarreness of some of these shapes to realize that you really want to dive deep into the facts about cloud formations that could explain them.
Most people believe clouds to be formed from water vapor, but one of the more curious facts about cloud formations is that high altitude cloud species such as cirrus or cirrostratus are actually made up of ice crystals. They are often thin and transparent, their movement rarely being visible to the naked eye.
Mammatus clouds are some of the strangest cloud formations of all. Shaped like bizarre, oversized round pebbles, they are usually associated with thunderstorms. The cooling air inside the clouds causes them to puff downwards, appearing like upside-down balloons or bubbles.
If you like to go out looking for UFOs in remote locations, you should consider reading about hat clouds - which bear strong resemblance to how UFOs look in popular culture. These are flat, often disc-shaped cloud formations that are quite rare, normally appearing after a typhoon sweeping the area, but are also found in mountainside locations where circular air currents are common.
One strange fact about cloud formations is that we can even make our own. In 2009, scientists have attempted to use saltwater crystals, trying to create a permanent low cloud cover that could allegedly reflect sunlight away from the Earth. The experiment backfired when they realized the cloud was actually trapping heat and raising temperature levels. It's a shame the sunlight reflection thing didn't work, but it is still so darn cool we can make our own clouds!
Clouds normally get their white and gray textures from the reflection of white sunlight. In some cases, however, polar stratospheric clouds can cause spectacular light effects by reflecting sunlight received from below the horizon, and breaking it down to beautiful colors due to their high altitude and temperatures of -77 degrees C.
Anvil-shaped clouds are some of the weirdest you will find. They appear above thunderstorms, and their curious shape comes from the temperature difference at that level of altitude, since the air in the stratosphere is warmer than the water particles rising up from the storm clouds.
One of the most interesting facts about cloud formations is that they are influenced quite heavily by air pollution. In fact, it’s been observed that there are more storms on Wednesdays and Thursdays, when pollution is at its highest, than in any other day of the week.
The Kelvin-Helmholz effect appears when two layers of air or cloud formations move past each other with different speed and temperature properties. This can create rare cloud formations appearing like crashing waves across the sky. Imaging surfing on those!
“Undulatus Asperatus” is a strange cloud formation that was nicknamed after famous explorer Jacques Cousteau, due to its surreal shapes resembling turbulent and chaotic ocean waves. Jacques Cousteau clouds are like something out of a fairytale and can be an incredibly imposing sight, especially when you’re out at sea.
This is my list of curious - and sometimes otherworldly - facts about cloud formations. Did they spark your interest? Do you know any other interesting things about clouds that might belong here?
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