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Name: Sam H.
Status: student
Age:  14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2002


Question:
Does the barometric pressure effect the cloud type?


Replies:



Replies:
An interesting question. I think not. The main factor affecting the cloud type is the stability of the air... which is a function of temperature and humidity. Warm humid air is less stable and is more likely to develop cumuloform clouds.

The only relationship I sense to barometric pressure is that areas of high pressure are more association with stable air... lows with unstable air.

Thinking a step further, areas of high pressure generally have clear skies that allow the sun to heat the surface of the earth that in turn heats the air making it less stable. These heated areas create instability.

Interesting question. I will be interested in seeing how others answer this question... but for now I stick with my first thought.... I think barometric pressure does not directly affect cloud type.

Larry Krengel


Dear Sam-

Barometric pressure usually does not have any determination on the type of clouds present. The cloud types are a factor of the amount of moisture present at a given altitude, and whether the air is being "lifted" or is subsiding... ...subsiding air in a layer usually indicates clouds dissipating...and air converging, or being lifted, usually indicates cloud formation.

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St Louis, MO


Sam,

The barometric pressure doesn't directly affect cloud type.

However, certain cloud types are more common during certain atmospheric pressure conditions, because of the dynamics involved in those weather systems. For instance, in low pressure areas you are more likely to get stratus clouds and embedded cumulonimbus. In high pressure systems you get "fair weather" cumulus, cirrus (especially from jet contrails), altocumulus (especially ahead of thunderstorms), cumulus congestus (tall cumulus), isolated cumulonimbus, and cumulonimbus embedded in squall lines in from of a cold front.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


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