Head in the clouds

  It’s summer, and I’m looking up at the brilliantly blue sky, marvelling at the huge billowy white clouds forming this afternoon. The last few days we’ve some spectacular storms with violent winds, a small tornado and too is-sized hail in some places here in Ontario.

 How can one not spend at least part of a day (or even a few moments) looking up at the clouds? They have been written about (Shelley’s The Cloud: “I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers…”) and sung about ( Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides, Now: “Rows and flows of angel hair, And ice cream castles in the air…”), and photographed (take a look at Ansel Adam’s work!) Often, we’re trying to figure out how soon we’ll need to run for cover. Or perhaps you’re out canoeing on a lake wondering if you’ll make it to shore before the tempest begins.

  Or maybe you’re with an eight-year-old, lying down on a grassy knoll looking for shapes in the cottony white clouds above. What a great way to spend an afternoon! But where do you start. Inevitably, the questions arise: “But, how do clouds form?” and “what kind of cloud is that?” While there just might be an app for that, I’ve found another, very comprehensive source for all your cloud knowledge at the UK’s Met Office simply called Clouds, or, more specifically, National Meteorological Library and Archive Fact sheet 1 – an Introduction to clouds. It’s a 59-page PDF with a full description and explanation of cloud formation, complete with graphs and illustrations, and, more importantly, pages devoted to pictures and descriptions of each of the dozens of cloud types. It’s the kind of source one can easily get lost in for a few hours.

Clouds is also an ideal background document for the student who wants to extend their learning further. Have a look!

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