Have you ever wondered how much does a cloud weigh?
The fluffy substance floating in the sky is usually perceived to be as light as a feather, but the reality is that it is not.
Let alone heavier clouds that appear during the rainy season, even the standard, normal cloud weighs around 1.1 million pounds.
Sure, that’s a surprise to most of you. Reason that clouds look so light-weight is that they are made up of numerous small droplets of water that are spread over a large area. Because these droplets are so tiny, it allows the clouds to float but collectively their weight is substantial.
How are clouds formed?
Heat from either the Sun or artificial means causes water from the Earth to evaporate. Understandably, evaporation causes water to change its state from liquid to gaseous vapours.
As the vapours travel higher up in the air, temperature decreases, allowing them to cool down and convert into tiny droplets of water. These water droplets then get clamped together with small specks of ice, dust or salt present in the atmosphere. They then cling together to each other and result in the formation of a visible cloud.
Did you know you could walk through a cloud?
This is possible because the droplets that accumulate to form a cloud are extremely small in size. This makes them analogous to steam. Therefore, if one would attempt to touch a cloud, they would be amused to see their hand pass right through it.
Did you know that fog is actually a cloud?
Yes, you read it right. Instead of being formed high up, sometimes clouds are created closer to the ground. If you are wondering why you never saw them, you did! In the form of fog.
Fog is actually a cloud that is formed too close to the ground. This reality will help you understand and imagine the state of a cloud and why they appear to be so light when they actually weigh quite a lot.
How does a cloud stay afloat?
Having learnt how much does a cloud weigh, you might be wondering how it stays afloat if it is so heavy. The reason is that the density of clouds is lesser than that of dry air, thus allowing them to float in the air.
This can be compared to water and oil. Even though it has weight, oil floats on water because it is less dense. This is exactly what happens with the clouds.
How to calculate the weight of a cloud?
The question that arises in one’s mind is that how did scientists find out how much does a cloud weigh if it cannot be touched.
Here is the method to calculate the weight of a cloud:
- The first step is to calculate the density of a cloud (cloud density varies depending on type of the cloud).
- The second is to measure its size or volume, which again varies from cloud to cloud.
Multiplying a cloud`s density by its volume will give you the mass or weight of a cloud.
Mass = Volume × Density
Experts in the field of atmospheric sciences use Laser Doppler Velocimetry to measure the density of a cloud.
The process involves driving past the shadow of the cloud at a time when the position of the sun is directly above it.
The time it takes to drive past the shadow and the speed at which the car is being driven can help in calculating the length of the shadow.
However, in order to calculate the volume, we also need width and height.
A trick to do that is to measure the cloud`s shadow at a time when the sun is directly above it.
There are many different types of clouds. However, the most commonly known is ‘Cumulus Cloud’.
The image below lists the main types of clouds. You can research each individual type in detail if you are interested.
How much does a cloud weigh in terms of earth life?
You would be surprised to know that an average Cumulus Cloud weighs equal to 100 elephants, 2500 donkeys or 2 adult blue whales.
We hope you found this article interesting as well as informative. Next time someone makes the mention of clouds as light objects, you would be informed enough to correct and surprise them with the above-mentioned facts.
We hope you enjoyed learning unique information like how much does a cloud weigh and why it stays afloat.