26 October 2009

Cirrocumulus Under What?

Posted by Dan Satterfield


As I came into the station car park on Monday, I noticed a beautiful deck of Cirrocumulus Undulatas clouds high over the Huntspatch.


The ripples in the cloud are formed the same way that ripples form in a pond when you throw a rock in. Waves in the atmosphere can be caused by air flowing over mountains, or from strong convection. Actually there are quite a few processes, but anything that makes the air move vertically can start the process.

Meteorologists have a technical name for this. Gravity Waves.

These waves can travel hundreds, if not thousands of kilometers, if conditions are right. We do not see this often in Summer, but as the winds aloft pick up in the autumn, the clouds get more and more interesting!

I have mentioned it before, but I will mention it again, There is a fabulous book on clouds that you will really enjoy. The Cloud Book by Richard Hamblyn. Knowing something about them, only adds to their beauty.

Richard Feynman (Yes, of course I stood up when I typed his name.) talked about this in one of his lectures, albeit he was talking of science knowledge in general. He used a flower, and waves on a beach to tell his students that because he understood how they worked (down to the subatomic level), they were still beautiful and even more so!