Cloud categories – Hands-On Activity

Cloud categories – Hands-On Activity

Clouds are categorized by their height in the troposphere (atmospheric layer closest to Earth’s surface) and their appearance. The three basic categories are low-, middle-, and high-level clouds. Clouds at different altitudes don’t just look different–they are different. Find out how.

You Need: pencil * pen * color pencils (dark gray, light gray, light blue) * eraser * research material on clouds (from library or Internet) * “Global Warming: Cloud Patrol” (p. 21)

To Do:

1. Review “Global Warming: Cloud Patrol” (p. 21).

2. Select two low-, two middle-, and two high-level clouds.

3. Research the altitude, composition, and temperature of each cloud.

4. Draw the clouds on the space provided below. Color-code each cloud: low-level, dark gray; medium-level, light gray; high-level, light blue.

5. Beside each cloud, label its temperature and composition.


Conclusions: Which cloud could drizzle all day? Which one is associated with thunderstorms? What kind of cloud appears feathery? Why?

Don’t Stop Now! Research contrails, and write a paragraph explaining how they’re formed. Then draw one in the space above. Bonus: What is a cloud on the ground called?


Drizzle accompanies nimbostratus clouds. Cumulonimbus clouds produce thunderstorms. Cirrus clouds look feathery because they’re wisps of ice.

Contrails form around the exhaust of high-flying jets.

Bonus: Fog is a cloud on the ground.

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