As Member No 8158 of the Cloud Appreciation Society, I am passing on to non-members (you can join for a tiny subscription) some notes by our founder, Gavin Pretor-Pinney, from the Society's website and recent editions of its newsletter:
Isn't it funny how fast things can spread through the world media these days? You may be aware that the society has recently been involved in proposing a new cloud classification. This came about as a result of member photographs, sent in to the society Photo Gallery, which we found ourselves unable to adequately identify. And now it seems the whole world is talking about the new 'asperatus' cloud. Since the cloud looks rather as if you are looking up at the surface of a turbulent, choppy sea, we decided to name it with the word used by Roman poets to describe the sea being 'roughened-up' or 'agitated' by the cold north winds.
No sooner had we started speaking with The Royal Meteorological Society in the UK about the proposed asperatus cloud to see how we might go about trying to add it to the classification system as a new variety, than media got wind of it. They couldn't resist the prospect of a new cloud on the horizon, and soon the story went viral. It has now appeared on radio, newspapers and websites in countries right across the world.
We propose that asperatus should be adopted as a new ‘variety’ of cloud, meaning that it is a particular characteristic that appears in one or other of the main cloud types. This would mean that the rough and choppy looking Altocumulus cloud shown above would become known as ‘Altocumulus asperatus’.
A week ago, no one had ever heard of an asperatus cloud. Now a google search leads to over 28,000* pages.
*Today, 132,000 pages