Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cloud fanciers welcome the the newly-named Asperitas

ANYONE who’s studied the weather will know the trauma of getting your head round all the various cloud formations.

After splitting into categories of height, shape and rain-bearing capability the brain can blur - especially when identifying them in real life.

Cirrus clouds may look vastly different from burgeoning cumuli on a diagram, but try differentiating them in a mackerel sky filled with altocumuli, stratus and lenticular formations.

Ok, the last one would be unlikely as rare lenticular clouds, which look like giant spaceships, usually only form when air flow over mountains in layers producing the lens-like structures.

There are many less common clouds which are usually left off the standard graphic pondered over by meteorologists.

Mammatus clouds hang like giant udders under cumulus clouds, nacreous clouds form much higher up than their counterparts appearing as a pearly haze while eerie noctilucent clouds cast an etherial glow in the night sky.

Now there is another to add to the list, the newly-named Asperitas (Latin for roughness) is about to be officially listed in the International Cloud Atlas.

Looking like rough or turbulent seas, it has just been put forward for inclusion in the atlas by the UK Cloud Appreciation Society.

“It’s really exciting to see Asperitas that bit closer to becoming official,” said its founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney.

“It’s great that the general public and amateur observations have influenced the atlas, it feels very democratic. 

“The internet has resulted in increased connectivity, these days everyone has a camera at their fingertips, and this has resulted overwhelming evidence for this new type of cloud”.

My first thoughts ….. Yes - there really is a UK Cloud Appreciation Society……..

The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is currently updating the International Cloud Atlas, first published in 1896, and has now presented details of the new cloud to the World Meteorological Congress.

(Picture: Met Office / Ave Maria Moistlik)

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