Human Journey

Cloud Enthusiasts Lobby for Recognition of New Cloud Type

The image was captured from inside a 12th-floor office at the National Science Foundation headquarters.

Oh, to be counted among the nimbus and the stratus! That’s what the fans of the undulatus aspertus want.  The undulatus cloud, which resembles agitated waves, was first discovered in 1951 but has not yet been recognized as an official cloud type.   The undulatus drew attention in 2009 when a dramatic photo of one taken in Cedar Falls, Iowa went viral.  (The picture was featured on the National Geographic’s website.)   That same year the Cloud Appreciation Society took up the cause to give the turbulent cloud its very own classification. The final say is up to the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization in Geneva.  The undulatus will only be officially recognized if it is included in the WMO’s International Cloud Atlas.

The Cloud Appreciation Society is even developing an iPhone app to help document and geo-tag these clouds, which will allow researchers to compile information on where and how the clouds form and to make the case for its classification. So if you are outside and see one, take a photo. Help these cloud watchers get their cloud its deserved status.

For all the latest science news, check out National Geographic Library’s twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

Systems specialist at NG Library.
  • Josh Chamot

    I took this photo with my iPhone back in 2010. We submitted it to the Royal Meteorological Society but did not know if it got anywhere. Glad to see that it “counted” as a real example of those clouds — in person, they are much more dramatic, and unusual.

  • Dan

    The building looks very happy.

  • amanee

    i love the new cloud.

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