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The Challenge: Predict the Weather

How many cloud types are there?

There are ten different cloud types, which are classified by their shape and height. Meteorologists use the same Latin-based classification system as for animals and plants — genus, species and variety.

The three basic cloud forms are:

Cumulus — heap clouds
Stratus — layer clouds
Cirrus — hair-like or feathery clouds.

These words or variants occur in the compound names for the other seven major types. There is some overlap between the families. Cirrostratus and cirrocumulus are respectively members of the stratiform and cumuliform groups as well as the cirrus family.

The cumulus-like family
consists of:

- Cumulus
- Stratocumulus
- Altocumulus
- Cirrocumulus
- Cumulonimbus

The stratus family
consists of:

- Stratus
- Nimbostratus
- Altostratus
- Cirrostratus

The cirrus family
consists of:

- Cirrus
- Cirrocumulus
- Cirrostratus

Using the meanings of the Latin names as a guide, can you identify what these clouds might be?

Roll over the images below to find out the answers