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New Clouds

June 8, 2009

undulus asperatus

The Question: Have we discovered an entirely new type of cloud?

As the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society, Gavin Pretor-Pinney regularly receives images of interesting cloud formations. Most are easy to classify. But beginning in 2005, he began to see something new:

Pretor-Pinney jokingly calls it the “Jacques Cousteau cloud,” after its resemblance to a roiling ocean surface seen from below. But the cloud fan has proposed a “formal,” Latin name: Undulus asperatus roughly, “a very turbulent, violent, chaotic form of undulation,” explained Pretor-Pinney, author of the new Cloud Collector’s Handbook.

The study of clouds is currently drawing renewed attention from researchers who believe that they could yield important new data for predicting climate change.

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