Science Questions

Sat, 9th Sep 2006

Part of the show Hot Nectar, Warming Weather and Birds Missing the Spring


Paul in South Yorkshire asked:

If clouds are made up of water, why do they differ in colour, from fluffy white to dark and black?


The main reason is the thickness of the cloud. A nice light fair weather cumulus tends to be quite shallow at times but as it gets bigger and bigger we sense less light coming through the cloud, and that tends to be really dark. So you get these big areas of stratocumulus that cover the sky, not a lot of sunshine gets beneath them so there's lots of shadow beneath the cloud, which makes it appear dark.


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