When you look up at the blue sky, the first thing that you notice is lots of fluffy white things similar to cotton balls, called clouds. Though you may find no difference in them, the fact is that there are different types of clouds. Clouds are classified according to their size, altitude and appearance. One of the various types of clouds are the nimbus clouds. The word 'nimbus' is derived from Latin meaning rainstorm or cloud. Nimbus clouds are clouds that produce precipitation that reach the ground in the form of rain, snow or hail. There are two types of clouds, namely, cumulonimbus (cumulus clouds) and nimbostratus (stratus clouds). These clouds are dark in color because they are heavily laden with tiny droplets of water that come down in the form of rain, sleet, snow or hail.
Interesting Facts about Clouds
It is quite fascinating to watch clouds, floating in the sky. Looking up towards the sky, all we can see is big, white fluffy clouds drifting past and think all are the same. But do you know there are 10 basic cloud types? Before we take a look at the nimbus cloud type in detail, let us see some interesting facts about clouds in general.
- The modern nomenclature and classification of clouds was given by Luke Howard (1772-1864), an English pharmacist and amateur meteorologist.
- Clouds are classified according to their height and appearance. Another criterion for classification is the amount of precipitation they have in them - clouds that bear rain and clouds which don't.
- The names of the four main types of clouds are derived from Latin. 'Cirrus' means curl, 'Stratus' meaning layer, 'Cumulus' that means heap and finally 'Nimbus' or rain cloud.
- Clouds are formed when the water from rivers, lakes and oceans evaporate and go into the atmosphere. But on the planet Saturn, clouds are composed of droplets of liquid methane.
- The biggest clouds, cumulonimbus are at an altitude of 9.7 kilometers ( approximately 6 miles) and have the capacity to hold up to half a million tons of water.
- Nimbostratus clouds (derived from the Latin word 'Nimbo' meaning rain) are dark gray clouds that produce precipitation.
- Cirrus clouds are high altitude clouds and are formed at an altitude of 7 kilometers above the surface of the earth.
- In Iran, clouds are considered to be a sign of good omen. In order to indicate that someone has a good omen or is happy it is said, "dayem semakum ghaim", which means 'your sky is always filled with clouds'.
Nimbus Cloud Formation
Nimbus clouds are formed when the air cools and results in condensation (a process where the water vapor turns into liquid) of water vapor that is invisible and produces visible cloud or ice droplets. The size of the particles of clouds can range anywhere from 0.0005 to 0.008 cm or 0.0002 to 0.003 inches (approximately 5 to 75 micrometers). These water droplets then take various shapes and sizes and float in the atmosphere. Different types of clouds are formed due to the difference in temperature at which condensation occurs. If the temperature is below freezing, clouds are usually formed of ice crystals or else they are water droplets. The formation of clouds is also affected by the movement of air currents.
Nimbus Clouds Facts
Spread across the sky in an even manner, nimbus clouds are the bearers of rain. These clouds are formed in large numbers and are seen drifting in the lower strata.
- These clouds are large, grayish black in color and precipitous clouds.
- They carry huge amounts of droplets of water, that come down in the form of rain.
- The nimbus cloud are found at low altitudes and are spread across the sky uniformly.
- Nimbostratus clouds, which are a type of nimbus clouds, are found at an altitude of 2400 meters (8000 feet approximately).
- These clouds are formed because of warm weather conditions.
- Nimbostratus clouds are identified by their grayish appearance in the sky and also obstruct sunlight.
- Cumulonimbus clouds are the clouds that usually cause thunderstorms, as the water droplets are closely packed or stay in a single mass.
- They develop from cumulus clouds and are usually tall.
Nimbus Cloud Information for Kids
As kids, everyone was interested in clouds and the fact that clouds are not fluffy cotton balls but droplets of water was really baffling. Teaching kids to identify clouds is a very easy task. The basic method to teach them the difference between nimbus clouds and other clouds is by teaching them about their color. You can also make the kids draw clouds (their favorite is the Cumulonimulus clouds, that are seen in most drawing books) in order to identify these clouds.
Nimbus clouds are nothing but rain clouds. So, the next time you see big, dark splotches in the sky on a rainy day, you will know what they are.