Our Beautiful Planet: Clouds | eco@africa | DW | 07.04.2017
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Eco@Africa

Our Beautiful Planet: Clouds

Clouds are omnipresent - there are few days when no clouds dot the sky. They impact our weather and often our moods when they block out the sun or bring heavy rain. They are also simply beautiful.

DW eco@africa - Clouds in Palm Beach (DW/T. Rooks)

Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean as seen from Palm Beach, Florida

A cloud is a visible collection or mass of minute particles of water or ice that are suspended in the air. This matter-of-face definition does not even come close to explaining the fascination with clouds.

These ever-changing formations come in many colors: green, white, blue, black, gray and even yellow. They can cool the earth and often announce weather transitions before they happen.

Clouds come in many forms and some of the names have become well-established terms: stratus, cumulonimbus, cirrus. Their names depend of their appearance and how high up they are. Some are low and puffy, some cover the entire sky, some are streaks high in the sky. It is not uncommon to see figures and sometimes even words spelled out on a blue background.

As old as time

Clouds have fascinated and bewildered mankind since the beginning of time. They have inspired songs, dances, paintings and poetry. 

The ancient Greeks were the first to immortalize their thoughts. Based on observation and intuition as part of his study of weather, Aristotle wrote about clouds in his work "Meterologica" around 340 BC.

The first truly scientific studies of clouds started at the beginning of the 19th century. Luke Howard from England and Jean-Baptiste Lamarck from France are the pioneers who classified clouds and saw the link to weather forecasting.   

Today we now know that that the earth is not the only place where clouds have been found - other planets and moons in our own solar system also have such phenomenon.

So look out the window. Look up the next time you go outside. Clouds are amazing and deserve more attention. They have a huge impact of our lives and our world. They bring the rain to sustain life and are simply beautiful. 

Do you have a picture of a beautiful landscape or amazing nature that you want to share with readers? If so, you can send it to us using the upload tool on our website, or by emailing us at ecoafrica@dw.com.

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