Clouds form when water vapor condenses as liquid water onto particles in the Earth's atmosphere and are composed of billions of tiny water droplets or ice crystals, depending on how high they are in the atmosphere. The three basic patterns of clouds are cirrus (wispy), stratus (sheets, or layers) and cumulus (the fluffy, cotton ball-like ones). Clouds can form low to the ground (like stratus clouds), in the middle of the atmosphere (like altocumulus clouds) or high up (like cirrus clouds). Clouds can affect Earth's climate by either reflecting incoming solar rays back out to space or by absorbing and re-emitting infrared radiation coming from Earth's surface. Read the latest research on the various types of clouds and how clouds form below.
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Gorgeous Night-Shining Clouds Glow in New Earth Images
June 8, 2015 noctilucent clouds
June 23rd, 2015
Luminous, filamentous noctilucent clouds glow over the North Pole in new NASA images.
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Bright and Stormy Night: Clouds Make Cities Lighter
February 19th, 2015
Clouds are interrupting the natural night cycles of the moon and stars. Because of light pollution, when clouds roll in at night, cities brighten instead of growing darker, researchers find.
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Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower: Will Clouds Obstruct Your View?
Halley's Comet
May 5th, 2014
Stargazers in the southern U.S. will have some of the best viewing conditions in North America early on Tuesday morning for the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.
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Clouds Over Peru: Upwelling Causes 'Bumpy' Fog Along Coastline
An instrument on NASA's Terra satellite captured this image of clouds hanging over the Peruvian coast, on June 7, 2015.
June 15th, 2015
Winter clouds hang low over the coast of Peru in a new bird’s-eye image from NASA;s Terra satellite.
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Photos: Light Pollution Around the World
Kitt Peak
February 19th, 2015
Because of light pollution, when clouds roll in at night, cities brighten instead of growing darker, researchers find. Here are photos of the artificial nighttime glow.
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How Do Clouds Form?
Polar Stratospheric Clouds Over Antarctica
April 11th, 2014
When the sun heats water in the oceans, rivers, lakes and other sources, some of it evaporates, or transforms from liquid water to water vapor. This is the first step in cloud formation.
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'Furry' Clouds Create Spectacular Effect Over Ocean (Photo)
Cirrus off Chile Coast
June 2nd, 2015
Wispy, featherlike clouds off the coast of Chile appear to cover the Pacific Ocean in white fur, in a newly released satellite photo.
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Algae Snot Explodes Cloud Formation Mystery
Marine stratocumulus clouds, algae snot, cloud formation
March 10th, 2014
Open ocean clouds have been found to contain biological substances that can be traced to the waters where they formed.
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