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You are watching: What does the prefix or suffix “nimbus” mean is true about the cloud?

At the completion of this section, girlfriend should be able to name and also describe the three simple cloud types (cirrus, stratus, and also cumulus). Friend should also be able to define the an interpretation of the prefixes cirro, alto, cumulo, and nimbo (and the suffix nimbus) in order come decipher typical cloud names.


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Meteorologists routinely look at clouds from over via satellite imagery, but before we acquire into learning how to interpret clouds ~ above satellite images, we need to learn around some straightforward cloud types. From the perspective of one observer standing on Earth"s surface, clouds have the right to be share by your physical appearance. Accordingly, there are essentially three an easy cloud types:

Cirrus, i m sorry is synonymous with a "streak cloud" (detached filaments that clouds the literally streak across the blue sky).Stratus, which, acquired from Latin, translates to a "layered cloud."Cumulus, which means "heap cloud."

From these an easy cloud types, meteorologists additional classify clouds by their altitudes:

Four major Cloud ClassificationsImageGeneral Description
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High clouds (cirrus, cirrocumulus, cirrostratus) observed over the middle latitudes frequently reside at altitudes near and over 20,000 feet. At together rarefied altitudes, high clouds room composed of ice crystals.
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Middle clouds (altostratus, altocumulus) reside in ~ an mean altitude the ~10,000 feet. Store in psychic that center clouds can type a pair of thousand feet over or listed below the 10,000- foot marker. Center clouds space composed that water droplets and/or ice cream crystals.
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Low clouds (stratus, stratocumulus, nimbostratus) can form anywhere from the ground to an altitude of about 6,000 feet. Fog is just a low cloud in contact with the earth"s surface.
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Clouds of upright development (fair-weather cumulus, cumulus-congestus, cumulonimbus) cannot be classified as high, middle or low because they frequently occupy more than one of the over three altitude markers. Because that example, the base of a high cumulonimbus cloud regularly forms below 6,000 feet and then builds upward to one altitude far above 20,000 feet.

Just by knowing the three straightforward cloud types (cirrus, stratus, cumulus) and the 4 classifications (high, middle, low, and also clouds of upright development), in addition to their matching prefixes and also suffixes, we can name lots of different species of clouds.

High clouds deserve to either it is in "plain" cirrus, or us can include the prefix "cirro" come a suffix that defines their appearance (cirrostratus for high-altitude, layered clouds; cirrocumulus because that high-altitude, "heap" clouds).Middle clouds lug the prefix "alto" and also a suffix that defines their appearance (altostratus because that mid-level, layered clouds; altocumulus because that mid-level, "heap" clouds).Clouds that vertical development always include the indigenous "cumulus" or the prefix "cumulo," but can have actually various suffixes or various other descriptive modifiers (like "fair-weather cumulus").The surname of low clouds have more variation. Short clouds deserve to be described as plain "stratus" (if they"re smooth and layered) or "stratocumulus" if they have both layered and heap-like characteristics, for example. If low, layered clouds are precipitating, they"re dubbed nimbostratus. The prefix "nimbo" originates from "nimbus," which means that this short cloud to produce precipitation (note that nimbus can likewise be provided as a suffix, together in cumulonimbus as soon as a cumulus cloud is developing precipitation).

To acquire a better feel for these assorted cloud types, I extremely recommend exploring this interaction cloud atlas. Move your cursor over each red pen to see an instance photo and also description that that details cloud type. Trying out this device should provide you a better feel for the miscellaneous cloud types.

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Learning come identify and describe the significant cloud varieties can aid you "read the sky," and as us learn much more about the processes that make clouds transparent the course, friend may be able to make your own basic weather forecast just based upon the varieties of clouds you watch in the sky! However, now that you"ve looked at clouds from the bottom side, you"re all set to look at clouds indigenous the peak side and also tackle the values of interpreting clouds ~ above satellite imagery.