How Clouds Form
Sometimes you can speed up the natural process of cloud formation by adding artificial condensation nuclei; this process is called cloud seeding. Why would you want to accelerate the formation of clouds? It’s a form of weather modification; something people do to either increase the amount of precipitation or suppress hail and fog. Cloud seeding in the United States is used in areas of drought and to prevent too much fog around airports.
Types of Clouds
Mid clouds appear blue or grey, and take up the middle level of the sky. Altostratus clouds are sheets or layers of darker clouds that take up most or all of the sky. Altocumulus clouds have “rolls” or ridges and often occur in conjunction with other cloud types. Nimbostratus clouds are what we refer to as rain clouds. It forms from multiple layers of the altostratus cloud coming together. As precipitation continues, the nimbostratus cloud moves into the low level of clouds.
The lowest level of clouds are those that appear closest to the Earth’s surface, and are often very dense. Cumulus clouds develop vertically in the form of rising mounds or towers that resemble the head of a cauliflower! Stratus clouds are dark and heavy, and if they’re dense enough they can produce drizzle or snow grains. Stratocumulus clouds are grey or white and form in patches that resemble honeycombs! Last but not least, we have the mighty thunderstorm cloud: the cumulonimbus. This cloud looks like a mountain with a smoother top and a dark base that produces precipitation. Cumulonimbus clouds can also produce tornadoes.
In order to make your own cloud in a jar, we know we need warm water to cool, and some sort of condensation nuclei. It’s best to try this out with another person to help. Here’s what you’ll need for this activity:
First, pour some hot water into the jar, about ⅓ of the volume. Then, have one person light a match while the other prepares to quickly put the lid on. As soon as the match is lit, hold the flame inside the mouth of the jar over the water for a few seconds.
For further reference, here’s a YouTube video made by Dr. E showing how to make a cloud in a jar!
“Ten Basic Cloud Types” The National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/clouds/cloudwise/types.html
Nyren-Erickson, Erin. “How to Make a Cloud in a Jar”. YouTube, uploaded on 9/26/2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODCjZQUxCGw
Lee, Alix. “Cloud Sea Panorama”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 5/13/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Carlson, Ronald. “Cloud Texture”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 5/13/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Greyling, Lynn. “Layered Cumulus Cloud”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 5/13/17 from publicdomainpictures.net
Rabe, Foto. “Burning Matchstick Fire”. Released into the public domain. Uploaded on 5/13/17 from publicdomainpictures.net