Here we present accurate, captioned examples of the scientific cloud types for your editorial needs. The standard cloud types (based on the WMO International Cloud Atlas) are supplemented by some of the more common accessory clouds or form variations. All images contain only the type or situation depicted and are intended as classic or common examples with as little visual ambiguity as possible. There are many incorrect cloud type descriptions and published examples available elsewhere but, if you want accuracy, you can count on our expertise.
- The “Complex sky” examples are skies with mixed cloud types, multiple layers and contrasting cloud forms at different levels, to show the complexity of typical cloud situations.
- “Fractus and scud” includes both the incomplete forms or fragments of Cumulus and Stratus, and the dark, irregular chunks of low cloud seen around storms (scud, once called Nimbus).
- All cloud forms created by orographic lift or by the lee wave patterns induced by air flowing over high terrain are presented in “Mountain effects”. This includes wave clouds, orographic clouds and chinook arch clouds.
- In “Other cloud forms” are non-standard clouds, jet condensation trails (contrails), anvil clouds not associated with storms, and hybrid cloud forms which defy the classic cloud type definitions or descriptions and are very difficult to identify correctly.
- In “Weather processes” is a sampling of skies which illustrate an atmospheric process (e.g. wind shear, billows, buoyancy) or condition (e.g. stable layer, inversion, subsidence), principle of physics (e.g. evaporation, condensation, glaciation), or aspect of meteorology (e.g. warm front, lake-effect).