If you’re standing outside and you look up, you’ll likely see something familiar above you: clouds! They can be long and skinny, low and rumbly, white and fluffy, or anything in between. But what do these different shapes and colors tell us?
Every cloud is packed full of information, and knowing a bit about them can help you tell the difference between different types — and help you predict the weather.
Learn the ten most common cloud types with this Vox for Kids video: How to be a cloud detective. In it, NASA atmospheric scientist Dr. Mayra Oyola describes what to look for when you’re identifying clouds.
Temperature, altitude, humidity, wind conditions, and other factors influence the shape of clouds. Dr. Oyola explains why different clouds—cumulus, cirrus, nimbostratus, lenticular, mammatus, and others—look the way they do.
The video is chock-full of well-labeled visual examples. You can also download and print this chart (pdf).
Related exploration: The Cloud Appreciation Society.
Then watch more videos about clouds:
• How did clouds get their names?
• Why Do Clouds Stay Up?
• Adiabatic expansion and how to make a cloud in a bottle
• How to make a cloud in your mouth