Q:

Why do clouds form?

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Quick Answer

According to Met Office, clouds form when water vapor in the air condenses into tiny drops of water or ice crystals that then settle on dust particles in the atmosphere. Condensation happens when the air is saturated and cannot hold any more water vapor; this can occur when the amount of water in the air increases or when the air is cooled to its dew point.

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Full Answer

According to Met Office, there are five factors that lead to the formation of clouds. Surface heating is when the ground is heated by the sun; the air in contact with the ground is then also heated and begins to rise, producing cumulus clouds. The topography of a region can cause the formation of clouds when air is forced to rise over hills or mountains and cools. Fronts, boundaries between warm air and cool air, cause cloud formation when a mass of warm air rises up over a mass of cold, dense air. The convergence of streams of air flowing from different directions and being forced to rise cause cumulus clouds to form. Finally, turbulence created by a sudden change in wind speed can form clouds. Because of the many ways in which clouds can form, there are a variety of cloud types of different shapes, sizes and textures.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How clouds are made?

    A:

    Clouds form when warm, moist air rises into the upper atmosphere, where the cooler temperatures cause the water to condense. Depending on the altitude, clouds may be made up of water droplets or ice crystals, and these often form around floating motes of dust or other particles. When too much moisture condenses, the droplets or crystals become too heavy to stay aloft, falling as snow or rain.

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  • Q:

    How do cirrus clouds form?

    A:

    Cirrus clouds are made up of ice crystals that form when supercooled water droplets freeze. These wispy and thin clouds are usually at elevations higher than 20,000 feet and are created from other clouds that go through a process called glaciation. Cirrus clouds appear in a number of shapes and sizes and are commonly seen in areas with fair weather.

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  • Q:

    What are stratus clouds made of?

    A:

    Like all clouds, stratus clouds are made of water vapor, water droplets and even ice crystals. Stratus clouds are identified not by what they are composed of, but by their general appearance, which is uniform, wide-ranging and gray.

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  • Q:

    What happens during evaporation?

    A:

    During evaporation, water rises into the atmosphere and condenses into clouds. When the clouds absorb too much moisture and become heavy, the moisture falls to the ground in the form of precipitation. This is known as the water cycle, which involves evaporation, condensation and precipitation.

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