Everyone in heaven is pretty and thin

Clouds: The language of clouds

Cumulus, stratus, cirrus - these are not legionaries from Asterix and Obelix, but cloud shapes. Here you can find out how clouds are formed and what they tell us about tomorrow's weather

Clouds are vital for all living things because they regulate our global water balance. They store evaporated water from rivers, lakes and oceans, carry it on and finally distribute it as rain all over the world. But sometimes they surprise us with a heavy downpour or thunder and lightning. So that the next shower doesn't come unexpectedly, we introduce you to the different cloud shapes and tell you which weather they will bring.

More than 50 percent of the earth's surface is constantly covered with clouds. They occur at four different altitudes and are divided into ten genera: There are high clouds (five to 13 kilometers high), medium-high clouds (two to seven kilometers), low clouds (up to two kilometers) and those at any altitude occurrence.

Aristotle researched clouds and their formation over 2000 years ago. Since then, many scientists have studied the formations in the sky. We introduce you to the different types of clouds.

High clouds

Cirrus or feather clouds are thin, fibrous clouds of ice crystals that actually look just as their name suggests - like large white feathers. Sometimes they can herald a warm front with rain. Cirrus clouds allow a lot of sunlight to shine through to the earth. They have a strong greenhouse effect - so they warm the climate.

Cirrocumuli are thin, small, white ice crystal clouds that usually give us a strong thunderstorm.

Zirrostratus or veil clouds also consist of ice crystals and look like elongated, translucent veils. They usually cover the entire sky, lay like a white veil in front of the sun and bring rain no later than 36 hours later.

Medium high clouds

Altocumuli are medium-height, white or gray clouds that sometimes look like waves and are made up of small water droplets. They usually promise us stable weather and are quite harmless.

If the fleecy clouds are in the sky, the weather stays as it is. But if small turrets form from this in summer, it is better to take the umbrella with you!

Thickening, bluish to gray Altostratus clouds often bring heavy rain or snowfall. These clouds usually extend over a very large area (up to hundreds of kilometers) and can become so dense that you can no longer see the sun behind them.

The clouds then form a thick gray blanket that spreads for kilometers - a sign that there will soon be heavy rain or snowfall.

Deep clouds

Stratocumuli are gray, sometimes white heap layer clouds made of rain droplets or snow crystals. They indicate better weather, especially in winter, but can easily be confused with the similar-looking cumulus clouds.

These vast, rather thick and deep clouds have a great cooling effect on the climate because they reflect sunlight.

Stratus clouds often form a continuous gray layer of cloud and usually announce bad weather. The clouds hang low and wide in the sky. They contain a lot of water, provide shade and thus cool the climate.

Clouds that occur at all altitudes

Nimbostratus are called the gray snow or rain clouds that often cover the entire horizon. Their underside appears dark because the large raindrops there hardly let sunlight through. Caution: That'll rain

Cumulus clouds