Unique clouds identified in 2009

New Type of Cloud Found in 2009, first in over half a century

On 30 May 2009, The Telegraph reported:

An unusual type of storm cloud could become the first new variety of cloud to be officially identified in more than half a century [named Asperatus].

Meteorologists believe they have discovered a new classification of cloud after the unique formation has been spotted in skies around the world.

Experts at the Royal Meteorological Society are now attempting to have the new cloud type, which has been named “Asperatus” after the Latin word for rough, officially added to the international nomenclature scheme used by forecasters to identify clouds.

If successful, it will be the first variety of cloud to be classified since 1953.

The new type of cloud forms a dark, lumpy blanket across the sky and has been sighted in locations all over the world, including above the hills of the Scottish Highlands and above Snowdonia, Wales…. [and] above the flat plains of Iowa and Australia and also over the arctic sea just off the coast of Greenland.

Clouds are classified in an internationally recognised way that identifies where in the atmosphere they form, the amount of moisture they hold, their shape and appearance.

Luke Howard, a British pharmacist, first proposed a nomenclature system for clouds at the start of the 19th century, which was adopted as the standardised way of categorising cloud types.

The system, which is governed by the WMO, uses three layers of classification and was developed to help forecasters predict oncoming weather conditions from the cloud cover in the sky.

There are 10 basic cloud forms, or genera, that describe where in the sky they form and their approximate appearance, including stratus, cumulus and cirrus clouds.

The genres are subdivided into cloud species, which describe shape and internal structure, and cloud variety, which describes the transparency and arrangement of clouds.

To see more examples of unusual types of clouds see here


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