What are Cirrus Clouds?

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What are Cirrus Clouds? Blog Image


A new study has found a significant statistical correlation between thunderstorms occurring around the world and the formation of wispy cirrus clouds, which might increase global warming.

About Cirrus Clouds:

  • They are delicate, feathery clouds that are made mostly of ice crystals.
  • They are thin and wispy in appearance, often appearing as delicate, high-altitude filaments or strands.
  • Their wispy shape comes from wind currents, which twist and spread the ice crystals into strands.
  • They are usually white or have a light gray color. In the daytime, they are whiter than any other cloud in the sky. 
  • They are commonly known as "mare's tails" because they are shaped like the tail of a horse. 
  • Typically found at heights greater than 20,000 feet (6,000 meters), cirrus clouds are composed of ice crystals that originate from the freezing of supercooled water droplets.
  • They generally occur in fair weather and point in the direction of air movement at their elevation.


Other Main Cloud Types:

  • Cumulus clouds:
    • They are puffy clouds that look like puffs of cotton with a distinct white or light gray appearance.
    • They have a relatively short lifecycle. They form, grow, and dissipate relatively quickly under stable atmospheric conditions.
    • Cumulus clouds that do not get very tall are indicators of fair weather. If they do grow tall, they can turn into thunderstorms.
    • The bottom of cumulus clouds are fairly close to the ground.
  • Stratus clouds:
    • They are low-level cloud formations that are characterized by their uniform and featureless appearance.
    • They look like flat sheets of clouds.
    • They typically cover the sky like a continuous, grayish or whitish blanket and are often associated with overcast or cloudy weather conditions.
    • They may stay in one place for several days.
    • They form at altitudes below 6,500 feet (2,000 meters) above sea level.


What is a thunderstorm?

  • A thunderstorm is a weather phenomenon characterized by the occurrence of lightning, thunder, heavy rain, and sometimes strong winds or hail.
  • It is a type of storm that develops when warm, moist air rises rapidly in an unstable atmosphere. It is the result of convection.
  • Thunderstorms can vary in intensity, size, and duration, ranging from isolated, short-lived events to long-lasting, widespread systems.


Q1) What is convection?

Convection is a process of heat transfer that occurs in fluids (liquids and gases) when there is a difference in temperature within the fluid. It involves the movement of the fluid itself, transferring heat from one location to another. Convection is one of the three primary modes of heat transfer, along with conduction and radiation.

Source: Rise in global thunderstorm activity might increase the quantity of wispy cirrus clouds—accelerating global warming