Monday, December 12, 2022


9:40 PM | , ,

By looking on the clouds they seem soft, fluffy and lighter than air but those bouncy-looking clouds are actually so much heavier than they appear.

Air and millions of tiny water droplets together compose clouds. The water droplets in clouds are formed when water condenses around a 'tiny' particle i.e. any particle from nitric acid to vapors released by trees, generally very tiny.

Several ways can be used to measure the weight of a cloud. As cloud also contains water droplets, so by measuring the weight of water droplets, cloud's weight can be estimated. For measuring weight of water droplets, we should also know how densely packed droplets are.

Armin Sorooshian, a hydrologist at the University of Arizona said: "You need to know something about the dimensions of the cloud."

It is obvious that different types of clouds have different weights. For example, Cumulonimbus clouds (the dark clouds that appear before a storm) are much heavier than that of Cirrus clouds (usually formed when warm, dry air rises) which are lighter in weight.

Cumulonimbus Clouds viewed from the Orbit.

Several years ago, Margaret LeMone, an atmospheric scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, wondered about the weight of the water in an average cumulus cloud (detached, individual clouds usually spotted in fair weather conditions). For measuring the weight of Cumulus cloud, first she measured the size of a cloud's shadow and estimated its height, assuming a roughly cubic shape. Clouds are not typically cube shaped, but cumulus clouds are frequently about as tall as they are wide, so this assumption helped streamline the volume calculation. Then, based on prior research, she estimated the density of water droplets at around 1/2 gram per cubic meter.

After measurement LeMone said: "I came up with around 550 tons (499 metric tons) of water,". That's approximately the weight of 100 Elephants suspended above our head!:

"The entire volume of the cloud is not just the droplets: there's air too," Sorooshian explains.

So for measuring weight of cloud, we also need to know the weight of air between each water droplet in addition to weight of droplets.

Cumulus Clouds: Fair-weather, Low-altitude, fluffy heaps of clouds with cotton-like appearance.

But here a point comes in mind that if the clouds are so much heavy then why don't they fall down? So to answer this LeMone said : "The droplets are so small that they don't fall very fast".

The average water droplet in a cloud is 1 million times smaller than drop, roughly, about the size ratio of Earth to Sun. Sorooshain says, "A cloud is actually less dense than the air directly below it."

The wind blowing at high altitudes blow the tiny droplets along it keeping them in air for longer.

Clouds can be said to fall in the form of rain. When droplets in clouds cool down and condense into one another, they grow eventually becoming so heavy. A raindrop is much bigger in size as compared to the size of droplet in clouds.

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