A Colour Guide to Clouds by Richard Scorer

By Richard Scorer

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1. The area of sky visible from the ground is very large. The horizon seen from a height h is at a distance roughly equal to Y(2Kb), where R is the earth's radius. (Note: R and h must be measured in the same units in this formula. ) When seen from a height h a cloud at a height H disappears below the horizon on the sea when it is beyond a distance of about Y(2R)Çfb + ][H). Thus, cirrus can still be seen above the horizon at a distance of 150 miles if the visibility is good enough, and from a good vantage point the clouds over most of "a county" can be seen.

The cooling which produces the cloud is the result of a loss of heat by radiation into space from the ground, with no compensating heating from the sun. Only a very shallow layer of air close to the ground is cooled and so the cloud is very shallow. It is soon evaporated by sunshine in summer but may last all day in the depth of winter. T o cool a deeper layer than this one it is necessary to cool it at the top so that downward thermals (cold ones) are produced, or for the cooling to be spread upwards by srirring motions in the air.

In the cold air on the right cumulus is rapidly developing as soon as the sunshine begins to warm the ground. This picture was taken at about 11 o'clock on a summer morning ; and further from the front where the cold air was deeper, showers occurred in the afternoon. 26. Cumulonimbus in deep cold air is here illustrated with the lower clouds leaning forward (to the left) showing that the wind is stronger at higher levels. The anvil has snow and rain falling from it, and this gives it the softened outline, while a newly growing part of the cloud penetrates, with sharp white outline, far above the spreading anvil.

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