14 July 2009
The Cirrus are Near Us
Posted by Dan Satterfield
There are few things that calm my soul like a cerulean blue sky full of Cirrus clouds. I cannot remember a time when I walked outside without noticing the sky and being a real lover of sunsets (And sunset photography) the cirrus clouds rarely disappoint.
I just finished reading the best book on cloud I have ever come across and if you have always wondered what those cloud names we weather geeks throw around really mean, then you should definitely get it. It’s less than £6.39 on Amazon.co.uk and under 10$ on Amazon.com in the U.S.
The book is by Richard Hamblyn the Chief Meteorologist for the UK Met. Office. After reading it, I can tell we are meteorological soul mates!
I have run across what I think is the most beautiful picture of cirrus, I’ve ever seen tonight. It was taken by a chap named Peter who has a web site called flagstaffotos.com.au . This guy is one incredible photographer.
He has uploaded a bunch of his cloud shots to wikipedia, and granted a lic. The least I can do is show his work! (see below)
Cloud names sound a lot more complicated than they really are. The names we use today were proposed by an amateur English Meteorologist named Luke Howard. Legend has it, that he though it up while riding a horse to a scientific meeting. Hamblyn tells much more of his story in his book. If you love Constable paintings like I do, you are in for a pleasant surprise.
Clouds are named taxonomically now, just like animal and plant species are in Biology. The names, however, are based on Luke Howards original idea, to this day.
There are three types of clouds. This is the complicated part. Are you ready?
Yea, it’s a bit tough but you will catch on!
It does actually get a bit more detailed. The three types are broken down into 10 Genera of cloud.
1.Cumulus 2.Cumulonimbus 3. Stratocumulus 4. Stratus 5. Altostratus 6. Nimbostratus 7.Altocumulus 8.Cirrus 9. Cirrostratus and 10. Cirrocumulus.
That’s it. Now each of these clouds has it’s own species. Lets just talk about number 8. My favourite. Cirrus clouds.
There is Cirrus uncinus (Notice how the species name is not capitalized, like in taxonomic names), and Cirrus fibratus, Cirrus floccus, Cirrus castellanus, and finally spissatus, intortus, radiatus, vertebratus, and last, but definitely not least- Cirrus duplicatus.
(quit laughing, this is serious!)
In the coming weeks, I will show you some more cirrus clouds, but I doubt they will be as fabulous as that shot. I really must get down to OZ! In the meantime- get the book. It will open up a lifetime of enjoyment, looking at the sky.
I think I will get the book. Christmas present for the geek boy. 🙂
As a Dr. Who fan, you should check this out. Heck, as a human you should as well.
Wow… I can hear the breezes when I look at each of those shots.
I may actually look into this book . . . I also find all variants of cirrus very tranquilizing, although I have no logical reason for it.
I remember from science class they said there were three types of clouds and all others were variants on those basic types. (Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus) Wait – but I think they left out Nimbus. (I do need to pick up this book – although I have the “skywatcher cloud chart on my bedroom wall.)
But I like your simplification better . . . low, middle, high. Haha – bravo!
The http://www.flagstaffotos.com.au site you recommend is Beautiful indeed. Is it time to publish your photographs album as well?