Thursday, 18 June 2009


photo taken by Ken Prior over Schiehallion, Perthshire

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


Ann oDyne said...

"than media got wind of it" ...

and on The Beaufort Scale, what degree of wind was that?

I am thrilled to encounter an actual member of The CAS, and being a names-maven, just love Mr P-P for the naming of his daughter Cirrus.

Tony said...

Yes, but Cumulo-Nimbus would have been more stylish, don't you think?

Ann oDyne said...

Cumulo-Nimbus beats Cirrus mellifluously, but GP-P may have anticipated unkind nicknames relating to 'big fouffy and full of wet'.

Since our dreadful bushfires of Feb, I think we have a new cloud-name here, possibly with 'pyro' in it (sorry to say I have blanked it due to general trauma of the event)

Keep Your Eye On The Sky,
Aurora Australis.