What is a cloud?

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electreto05's profile pic

electreto05 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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A cloud is formed by a large number of water droplets. These droplets are formed when the water vapor rises from the surface of the earth. This vapor condenses upon contact with cold temperatures in the low levels of the atmosphere, leading to the formation of clouds

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sciencesolve | Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Clouds are agglomerations of particles which are either ice crystals, or light small drops of condensed water and dust, salt or ice.

Clouds are classified with respect to their place or shape. According to the position of clouds, there exists three types of clouds: high clouds, middle clouds and low clouds.

The high clouds are called cirrus clouds and this category contains three types of clouds:  cirrus, cirrostratus, cirrocumulus. The cirrus clouds are usually white and they predict a change in weather. The cirrostratus clouds are thin and predict a snow storm or a rain and cirrocumulus clouds predict cold weather.

The middle clouds are called alto and this category contains two types of clouds: altostratus and altocumulus. The alto clouds have grey color and they usually predict stormy weather.

The low clouds are called stratus clouds and this category contains three types of clouds: stratus, stratocumulus, nimbostratus. Nimbostratus clouds are dark grey and they usually cause restrained precipitations.

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rachellopez's profile pic

rachellopez | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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A cloud is basically just a large quantity of water droplets and/or ice crystals. They are formed when water vapor rises, becoming cooler in temperature, thus sticking together. Clouds are named by height in the sky and shape and they create the weather we see during the seasons (rain/snow/ice). What's cool about clouds is that they are on other planets and made of different things, which I didn't know until I looked at NASA's website. You learn something new everyday :)

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sid-sarfraz's profile pic

sid-sarfraz | Student, Graduate | (Level 2) Salutatorian

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Clouds is a group of water vapors and ice crystals. Basically clouds are formed by the condensation process. That is evaporation of water due to heat forms water vapor (gas form), which then combines to form clouds.

Temperature is cold in the sky where as warm air flows near the surface of the earth, that is the reason of evaporation. The warm air rises and settles above as cold air in the form of clouds. 

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malkaam | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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Cloud is the combination of liquid droplets or frozen crystals that are made up of water or they are mostly a combination of both, droplets and crystals. They can contain chemicals, like aerosols, or are made up of water. Clouds form as a result of process of condensation, which is the conversion of gas phase to liquid phase.

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ssarfraz | Student, Professional | (Level 2) Honors

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Clouds

The water drops or ice crystals floating in the sky form clouds.

Types of Clouds

Clouds can be classified into 3 types depending on there structure, appearance and altitude. These are as follows:-

  1. Stratus Clouds / Low altitude clouds (100m-3.2km) (Grayish clouds that often cover the entire sky. They resemble fog that does not reach the ground.)
  2. Cumulus clouds / Mid altitude clouds (3.2km-6.5km) (Puffy clouds that sometimes look like pieces of floating cotton. These clouds grow upward, and they can develop into thunderstorm clouds.)
  3. Stratocumulus clouds / High altitude clouds (6.5km++) ( Low and puffy. They typically cover most of the sky. These clouds don't usually lead to precipitation.)

How are clouds formed?

The sky is full of water droplets that we cant see. Because of these water droplets the air is cooler above. These water droplets turn into gas form called water vapor, and then these connect with each other and form clouds ie ice, or bits of dust.

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eli468's profile pic

eli468 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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A cloud is made up of many drops of water and/or ice crystals. Due to how small they( the water droplets and ice crystals) are, they can easily float in the air.

Clouds are formed when warm air rises, causing it to expand and cool. Closer to the ground air contains water i.e. water vapor because it is an invisible gas. When the air rises and cools it can't hold as much water vapor as it could closer to the ground where the air is warmer. This causes some of the water vapor to condense and land on tiny bits of dust in the air which form the water droplets and ice crystals. When many of these are put together, it creates what we see as a cloud.

Clouds only stay together in the sky when the are outside of the cloud is cooler than the air within the cloud.

There are many different groups of clouds. High Clouds, also know as Cirrus clouds, are clouds that are above 18,000 feet. Middle Clouds, also know as Alto clouds, are clouds sitting between 6,500 feet to 18,000 feet in the sky. Low Clouds, also known as Stratus clouds, are clouds that go up to, but not above, 6,500 feet. There are also clouds with vertical growth and special clouds. 

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crystaltu001's profile pic

crystaltu001 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

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A cloud is made up of small water droplets or ice crystals. All air contains water, but near the ground it is usually in the form of an invisible gas called water vapor. When warm air rises, it expands and cools.

mchandrea's profile pic

mchandrea | Student, College Junior | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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A cloud is basically water droplets or ice crystals formed together. In a more scientific definition, it is 

"a visible mass of condensed water vapor suspended in the atmosphere of a planet."

You can read more about clouds here. It is explained in a way that kids could easily understand. Or you could watch this very short video and cloud formation was easily explained at about 00:36 - 01:15 

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CaitlynnReeves's profile pic

CaitlynnReeves | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

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A cloud is essentially water dropplets that form around tiny particles of dust or dirt in the atmosphere. As the water freezes the cloud becomes heavier and eventually the particles of dust fall to earth bringing the surronding water vapor with it in the form of precipitation (rain, snow, hail, etc.)

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