By: Amanda Oliver
Professor Sherry Queen
Have you ever looked up into the sky and wondered why the clouds vary from shapes of dinosaurs, birds, a puff of cotton candy, or your neighbor’s face? Clouds take all kinds of different shapes, and as they roll across the sky they change. In meteorology, a cloud is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body. These suspended particles are also known as aerosols. Clouds in earth's atmosphere are studied in the cloud physics branch of meteorology. The international cloud classification system is based on the fact clouds can show free-convective upward growth like cumulus, appear in non-convective layered sheets such as stratus, or take the form of thin fibrous wisps, as in the case of cirrus. The three main types of clouds are taught to us at a very young age. The clouds are classified into three main groups: cumulus, stratus, and cirrus. Clouds may seem unimportant but they are from from it. Cumulus clouds are puffy clouds that sometimes look like pieces of floating cotton. The base of each cloud is often flat and may be only 1000 meters above the ground. The top of the cloud has rounded towers. When the top of the cumulus resembles the head of a cauliflower, it is called cumulus congestus or towering cumulus. These clouds grow upward, and they can develop into a giant cumulonimbus, which is a thunderstorm cloud. Cumulonimbus clouds dark bases may be no more than 1,000 feet above the Earth's surface. Their tops may extend upward to over 39,000 feet. Tremendous amounts of energy are released by the condensation of water vapor within a cumulonimbus. Lightning, thunder, and even violent tornadoes are associated with the cumulonimbus cloud. Cumulonimbus storm cells can produce heavy rain of a convective nature and flash flooding, as well as straight-line winds. Most storm cells...