Altostratus/Altocumulus/Altowhateveritis (December 06)

View from the Deep

It is easy to forget that we are all creatures of the ocean. Not the ocean of water, but that of the air. We call it our atmosphere and we live – of course – down in its depths. To the floating clouds above, we must look like tiny crabs, scuttling across the ocean floor.

The clouds render visible the various eddies and currents that flow through the atmosphere. They remind us of our status as bottom-dwellers. And none do this more vividly than the beautiful formation shown here, which looks like choppy waves of water seen from below the surface.

There are a few examples of this cloud type on the gallery pages (particularly the ones that appeared in Iowa, US, in the summer of 2006 – see here and here). But it is by no means clear to us what their classification should be. In fact, it seems to us that we lack a suitable name for this formation. So, a while back, we asked C.A.S. members to come up with their own suggestions. Look here to see members’ name ideas.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what this cloud formation is called. More important, is that it reminds us that we’re animals of the air, as well as creatures of the deep.


Altocumulus undulatus clouds spotted over Segno, Liguria, northern Italy by Riccardo Dall’Acqua.

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