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Quiz: Can You Identify These 7 Cloud Formations?

You can fly through the clouds, but can you identify them too?


  1. 1) Looks like no one is flying today. What is this?
    Wikipedia

    That's right, this is a cumulonimbus mammatus cloud, with lots of turbulence.

    This is a cumulonimbus mammatus cloud, with lots of turbulence.

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  2. 2) You get to the airport and see this cloud. What is it?
    Jim Brickett

    That's right, this is a towering cumulus cloud.

    This is a towering cumulus cloud.

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  3. 3) What's this cloud over the city?
    Wikipedia

    Yep, it's a lenticular cloud. And it's the result of air rising and cooling, forming a cloud, then sinking and warming, which is why the cloud appears to be 'hovering' over a specific area.

    It's a lenticular cloud. And it's the result of air rising and cooling, forming a cloud, then sinking and warming, which is why the cloud appears to be 'hovering' over a specific area.

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  4. 4) You're observing an active volcano and you see this on top of the ash cloud. What is it?
    Wikipedia

    That's right, this is a pileus cloud.

    That's right, this is a pileus cloud.

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  5. 5) You look up and see these clouds. What the heck are they?
    NCAR

    These cloud resemble breaking and crashing waves are called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. They form when two layers of air or liquid of different densities move past each other at different speeds, creating shearing at the boundary.

    These cloud resemble breaking and crashing waves are called Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. They form when two layers of air or liquid of different densities move past each other at different speeds, creating shearing at the boundary.

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  6. 6) You see these clouds high in the sky. What are they?
    Wikipedia

    That's right, these clouds made mostly of ice crystals are cirrus clouds.

    These clouds made mostly of ice crystals are cirrus clouds.

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  7. 7) You're flying a polar crossing and you see these clouds at twilight. What are they?
    Wikipedia

    Noctilucent clouds are formed by ice clouds at the boundary of the Earth's atmosphere, 50 miles high in the sky. These clouds are visible well after the sun has set because of their extreme altitude (the sun can still shine on them far above our own horizon line), and they're typically seen above 50 degrees latitude on the North and South poles. 

    Noctilucent clouds are formed by ice clouds at the boundary of the Earth's atmosphere, 50 miles high in the sky. These clouds are visible well after the sun has set because of their extreme altitude (the sun can still shine on them far above our own horizon line), and they're typically seen above 50 degrees latitude on the North and South poles. 

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Well, you have some room for improvement...

You scored %. Better luck next time.

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Nice work.

You scored %. Not bad.

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Looks like you pretty much know it all...

You scored %. Well done!

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Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at colin@boldmethod.com.

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