Breakdown: How clouds actually form

Breakdown: How clouds actually form

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Clouds, they occur in our skies all the time, but have you ever wondered how they formed in the sky? Let's breakdown the process that cause cloud formation.

A cloud is made of water droplets or ice crystals that are so small and light they can stay in the air above us. The water or ice that makes up clouds travels into the sky as water vapor--the gas form of water.

Water vapor gets into the air, primarily through evaporation. Liquid water from oceans, lakes and rivers turns into water vapor and travels in the air.

When the air rises in our atmosphere it gets cooler and is under lots of pressure. When the air cools, it's not able to hold all the water vapor it once was able too. Air also is not able to hold as much water when air pressure drops. The vapor then becomes small water droplets or ice crystals and a cloud then forms.

It is easier for water vapor to condense into water droplets when it has a particle to condense upon. Particles--such as dust and pollen--are called the condensation nuclei. We eventually see enough water vapor to condense upon pieces of dust, pollen or other condensation nuclei to form a cloud.

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