Clouds cover Earth every day and are critical to life as we know it. Clouds impact our day-to-day lives by providing us with fresh water and shading us from the sun. Amidst the beautiful landscapes of clouds in the sky are many processes that play an incredibly important and complex role in Earth’s climate system. On this page, meet some scientists studying clouds, watch some animations and lectures, and get involved identifying clouds.
Featured Scientist: Melissa Burt, Ph.D.
Also hear from Dr. Melissa Burt, and many others, on Science Moms, a nonpartisan group of scientists and moms working together to promote action on climate change.
Animation: Making Clouds
Clouds are made of water or ice crystals, but how do they form? Learn more about cloud formation and when it’s likely to happen. This video is a part of Animated Atmosphere, a suite of short videos produced by the UCAR Center for Science Education with FableVision Studios.
NCAR Explorer Series Lectures
Explore the science of clouds and the people studying them with these science lectures and discussions:
- Catcher in the Sky: A Tale of Modern Day Science, Research, and Aviation — hear from scientist Dr. Christina McCluskey and NCAR chief pilot Scotty McClain about special clouds over the Southern Ocean and flying research missions.
- Spirit of Adventure: Mountain Winds, Clouds, and Flying Through the Worst of It — hear from scientist Dr. Vanda Grubišić about how mountains exert a strong influence on the atmosphere, affecting nearby weather and generating their own climate.
- Exploring Water's Journey in the Atmosphere: Molecular Clues to Moisture Origins — hear from NCAR scientist Dr. Adriana Bailey about the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) If/Then Ambassador program and the origins of precipitation.
Educational Activity: The Art of Clouds
In this educational activity, The Art of Clouds, students use an identification guide to identify clouds in the sky and in landscape paintings, and then make their own art to depict cloud types. This is a great activity for kids grades 2-5.
Participatory Science: Clouds
Download the UCAR Center for Science Education's Field Guide to Clouds, a portable guidebook to identifying clouds. For a non-digital way to learn about the different clouds in our sky, download our Cloud Viewer (disponible en español: Identificador de Nubes).