This Week’s Science Blog: Look Up


(Hey look, it’s one of them TWSB posts! It’s been awhile, huh?)

So anybody who knows me knows I like clouds and cloud classifications, right? Well, so does (as expected) the World Meteorological Association (WMO). In fact, they published the first edition of the International Cloud Atlas in 1896 and have been updating it ever since.

Well, actually, the last update—meaning the last new cloud type added—was way back in 1951 (it was the cirrus intortus, meaning “an entangled lock of hair”).

However, thanks to people who really like to look up at the sky and try to classify all the clouds in it, there might be a new addition in the 2015 edition of the Atlas. The call for the possible new cloud type, the undulatus asperatus (“turbulent undulation”), arose in 2009 from Gavin Pretor-Pinney, a cloud enthusiast and founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society (I HAVE HIS CLOUD BOOK). He was editing selections of cloud photos for the Society’s gallery when he saw several of this new type of cloud which he believed did not fit into any other variety.

To gain further support for the new cloud type, Pretor-Penney worked with Graeme Anderson, a graduate student at the University of Reading, who wrote his dissertation on the undulates asperatus. In addition, many other cloud enthusiasts have continued to document cases of this type of cloud around the world with hopes that the WMO will officially add it in 2015.

Clouds, man.

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