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Inside a cloud

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We see clouds almost every single day of our lives, but have you ever wondered what exactly is in a cloud and how they stay afloat in the atmosphere?

How do clouds form?

Clouds are made out of a collection of tiny water droplets and ice crystals. As the sun heats the surface during the day, that moisture is released back into the atmosphere. As that warm air rises, it expands and cools. This process will continue over and over until there is enough condensation in the atmosphere for a cloud to form!

Why are clouds white?

The reason clouds are white is that the tiny water droplets and ice crystals are still big enough to scatter seven different color wavelengths (red, blue, green, yellow, orange, indigo, and violet). This makes the clouds appear white!

Why are rain & thunderstorm clouds gray?

When clouds become thicker with even more water droplets and ice crystals, less light is scattered through the cloud. As they continue to grow higher in the atmosphere it's harder for light to move through them making the clouds appear gray or dark!

How do clouds float?

The easiest way to explain this is to imagine seeing a tiny dust particle in your home floating in the sunlight. It's the same principle with clouds! The tiny water droplets and ice crystals are spread out over such a large distance that gravity doesn't force them all the way to the ground. So they're able to stay floating in the atmosphere!

Nick Jansen

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