Clouds are groupings of vapour or frozen crystals in a planets atmosphere. On Earth, these clouds are made from water whereas on other planets. On other planets these clouds can be made up of other elements such as nitrogen or hydrogen. They can form at any height in a planets atmosphere. On Earth they can form at any level but always when its cold. At the heights where clouds form, the temperatures are always cold even when they form at ground level. What some people don`t realise is that fog is a cloud that forms at the ground level. The only difference between fog and clouds is just the height in which they appear. Whether a cloud will drop precipitation depends on its level in the atmosphere, lower clouds will tend to drop rain than higher clouds.
Earth clouds are created when the water at the ground/sea level is heated and evaporates into the upper atmosphere. When the water reaches a certain height depending on environmental conditions at the time will group with other water to form clouds. When the pressure dips, the clouds begin to break up in the form of precipitation (rain/sleet/snow/hailstorms) and fall down to Earth. The fallen water drops will eventually go back up into the atmosphere to form new clouds. Clouds on other planets such as Venus and Jupiter are static clouds, they don`t create and disappear.
Clouds play an important in protecting humans from the harmful rays that enter our atmosphere. They rebound some of the Sun`s infra-red radiation. Not totally our friend, they can trap heat within the atmosphere and thus increase the temperature.
The table below details the main types of clouds that have been categorised. There are sub-types of clouds which I have decided not to detail. For example, Cumulonimbus clouds can be subcategorised into ( Cumulonimbus Calvus, Cumulonimbus Incus and Cumulonimbus with Mammatus).
|Cloud Name||Min Height (ft)||Max Height (ft)|