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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Trail from Ship Exhaust Leaves 'A' in the Sky
ship track clouds
December 28th, 2015
In July there was a large "A" written in the sky over the ocean near the Kamchatka Peninsula, in eastern Russia. In an image of this "A" snapped from space, the letter looks like it could have been made by an airplane that was using standard skywriting.
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Sea Creatures Make Brighter Clouds to Cool the Earth
Marine stratocumulus clouds, algae snot, cloud formation
July 18th, 2015
Green globs of little critters in the ocean are responsible for half of the cloud droplets that cover the Southern Ocean during the summer – the link between the critters and clouds provides needed insight for predicting the effects of climate change.
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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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Forget Fingerprints: You Can Be Identified by Your 'Microbial Cloud'
A man sits aloft on a cloud, working on his laptop
September 22nd, 2015
You're never alone when you're surrounded by your microbial cloud.
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Complex Cirrus Clouds Seen in 3D from Space
Terra satellite cirrus clouds
July 16th, 2015
Surprisingly complicated cirrus clouds are seen by a satellite and by a scientific instrument aboard the ISS, matching data to a high-flying view.
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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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Stunning 'Fire Rainbow' Formed by Halo of Ice
: fire rainbow, circumhorizontal arc, clouds, rainbow
August 21st, 2015
A so-called fire rainbow filled the sky with a haze of colors over Charleston, South Carolina, on Sunday (Aug. 16) in a recent photo posted to Twitter by Tiffany B. Jenks.
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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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