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Clouds

Terrestrial Tour: Clouds Hot and Cold

Clouds play a significant role in our everyday lives by regulating Earth's temperatures, making our world a comfortable place to live. 

Credits

All programs produced by: Space Telescope Science Institute, Office of Public Outreach
 
All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA
 
except:
 
·       Cloud illustrations by Marc Lussier, STScI
·       Sea creature illustration copyright The National Library of Israel, Shapell Family Digitization Project and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, _Department of Geography – Historic Cities Research Project
·       Various cloud photos courtesy of Marc Lussier
·       Valley fog photo courtesy of Lucy Albert
·       Clouds time-lapse video courtesy of Ethan Alexander Cook
·       Photo of cumulus clouds over field courtesy of PiccoloNamek, Wikipedia
·       Towering cumulus cloud photo courtesy of Jim W. Lee
·       Noctilucent cloud photo copyright Jan Erik Paulsen 
·       Noctilucent cloud photo courtesy of P-M Hedén, www.clearskies.se, www.twanight.org
 
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music
 
Written by Andrea Gianopoulos
Designed by Marc Lussier

Transcript

(SPEECH)
[GENTLE AMBIENT MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
Clouds roll through the sky. Text, Clouds, Hot & Cold
 
White puffy clouds in a blue sky. Text, Stand in the shadow of a big, fluffy cumulus cloud on a sunny summer's day and you can feel the change in temperature.
 
Clouds above a green field, Text, The clouds block most of the Sun's radiation from reaching the ground, making it feel cooler when you stand underneath it.
 
Not all clouds cool Earth's surface, though.
 
Yellow dots drop from the sun. When they hit the ground, they bounce up as red dots. Text, High thin cirrus clouds let sunlight pass through to the surface, but then trap most heat coming from the surface. This gradually warms Earth.
 
(SPEECH)
[AMBIENT MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
The red dots bounce off a cloud and return to Earth.
 
Big puffy cumulus clouds neither warm nor cool Earth's surface significantly.
 
Yellow dots from the sun bounce upward when they reach the clouds. Text, Thick cumulus clouds reflect the Sun's energy back into space.
 
Red dots rise from the ground. Text, But cumulus clouds also act like a thick blanket insulating Earth's surface. They keep heat in.
 
Low stratus clouds cool Earth.
 
Yellow dots from the sun bounce upward when they reach the clouds. Text, They reflect most of the Sun's energy back to space.
 
Red dots rise through the clouds. Text, In addition, stratus clouds allow some of the Earth's heat to escape to space.
 
NASA's Aqua satellite reveals how clouds both reflect and trap heat.
 
Blue, green and white areas on a graphic of Earth. A scale depicts Reflectivity from Least to Most. Text, Some Clouds Reflect Sunlight. Dark blue, cloudless ocean regions reflect the least amount of sunlight back to space.
 
Bright clouds in snow-covered surfaces reflect the greatest amounts of sunlight back to space.
 
(SPEECH)
[GENTLE MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
Red, bluish-purple, white and yellow areas on a graphic of Earth. A scale depicts Trapped Heat from Least to Most. Text, Some Clouds Trap Heat. This image shows where heat is escaping and where it is trapped.
 
Cloudless, warm, yellow-colored regions trap the least amount of heat.
 
High cold clouds in blue and white trap the most amount of heat.
 
Clouds below an airplane wing. Text, Every day thousands of planes take off and land around the world.
 
(SPEECH)
[GENTLE MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
2002 NASA Image, Rhone Valley Eastern France. The exhaust from these planes creates contrails: human-made cirrus clouds.
 
Because cirrus clouds allow some light to pass through to the surface but trap heat trying to escape, contrails can increase surface temperatures.
 
2004 NASA Image Southeastern U.S. In the United States, the number of cirrus clouds increased by 1% per decade.
 
Some scientists think this is due to the increase in air traffic and contrails.
 
Thick clouds reflect pink in a blue sky. Text, Clouds have long held our imaginations and curiosity.
 
A vertical cloud. Text, We imagine familiar objects or animals in their shapes...
 
(SPEECH)
[GENTLE AMBIENT MUSIC]
 
(DESCRIPTION)
Satellite image of a hurricane. Text, and fear their great power in large storms.
 
But clouds do more than pique our interest.
 
Cloud formations shift across the Earth.Text, They play a significant role in our everyday lives by regulating Earth's temperatures, making our world a comfortable place to live.