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Kingdom of the cumulus clouds

RAL Space atmospheric physicist, Dr David Hooper, delivered the latest Talking Science lecture at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) on the fascinating topic of cumulus clouds.

Cumulus clouds are one of the most common and distinctive types of cloud and appear as little and fluffy, cauliflower-shaped or ‘cotton-like’, with their name deriving from the Latin word for ‘heap’.

David brought cumulus clouds to life with the aid of time-lapse photography - showing explosive growth, lightning bolts and rainbows.

A cumulus cloud develops in a vertical direction, from the bottom up. Bases of these clouds are often no more than 1000 metres above ground, they are classified as low yet vertically building, meaning that they are in a constant state of change.

“I use a radar to study winds, atmospheric waves, and turbulence. My talk was based on images taken by an automatic camera. These have not only helped me to understand various signatures seen in the radar data, but they have taught me things about atmospheric processes that I’ve never come across in textbooks.” David said.

He also added, “The images provide an easy way to explain these processes to the general public and so they are perfect for a Talking Science lecture!”

Talking Science at RAL is a series of fascinating and free monthly scientific lectures by invited speakers that takes place every month between September and June. More information about these talks can be found on our website Ral Talking Science.

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Last updated: 25 March 2019


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