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July 26, 2016


BY: Pere Valera



The sea and the sky might be the two halves of the same sphere. And we seafarers are used to sailing the sometimes unpredictable surface that separates them. In this campaign I have learned something about observing the part of the sphere that we cannot see with just our eyes. And the similarities (and obviously the differences) between the two halves are striking. But today I’m going to talk about the half we can see simply by looking up, and so observe its fauna: the clouds. Just like marine animals that specialise according to the depth at which they live, these celestial animals called clouds also differ according to the altitude at which they are created and nurtured. And so we have the fibrous and silky “cirrus”, created from tiny ice crystals. Formed from altitudes of 5 km or above, there are 3 types: cirrus, cirrocumulus and cirrostratus, and these in turn, like corals with suggestive scientific names, are divided into other varieties with poetic names such as “cirrocumulus stratiformis undulatus”.

At a height of between 2 and 5 km we find the clouds that are classified as “high”: altocumulus, altostratus and nimbostratus; each also with its different varieties, names and characteristics. And below 2 km have “stratus”: stratocumulus, stratus, cumulus, cumulonimbus. These last two varieties are also described as having vertical development, as they can reach heights where the cirrus reign, and at the same time touch the surface where we live, and often violently. And then there is the fog which is no more than a stratus that caresses the surface dividing the two halves of the sphere that I mentioned before. And let’s hope we will also be capable of protecting the space where these magnificent and ever-changing creatures live, so that we can look up and see all their beauty and understand what they are saying to us.