Janey asked in Science & MathematicsWeather · 1 decade ago

Why do clouds look like they have flat bottoms?

I was looking at some huge puffy clouds, i can't remember what they're called, anywho, i noticed that it was like someone took whipped cream and slopped it on a glass table, and i can see the flat bottom. why is that? why aren't they like balls of puff?

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  • Daniel
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Clouds are at the top of what is called a "thermal". These are rising parcels of air. Air is cooler as you reach higher and higher elevations. Along with these parcels of air is moisture. When the parcel of air reaches a temperature point when the moisture can condense, a cloud forms. The bottom is relatively flat because the air that the parcel passes through is stable; the air below that point is still warm enough to keep the parcel from condensing, and the air above is cooler, all at the same level all around it.

    Source(s): meteorlology text
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Hi LaRall, It is because,..they DO have flat bottoms,..As you know, the higher that you go, up into the atmosphere, the colder it gets,..So now let us imagine a " puff ball', of warm, humid air, floating along, at a warm, low altitude,..the air is "humid' in that it contains a lot of moisture, but you see no cloud, so now this moist air begins to rise up into the higher, COLDER, altitudes, perhaps it is going "up" over a mountain,..It is a fact, that warm air can hold MORE moisture, than cold air can, without it turning into a visible cloud,..so as this moist air rises, only the part of it that is high enough, for it to be cold enough, will become a VISIBLE cloud,..& the part of this "puff ball that is still in the lower, warmer air, will not become visible,..This altitude, in the upper air, where it gets cold enough to turn humid air into a visible cloud, is called an "inversion layer" & the exact temperature that will turn a given level of moisture, into a cloud is called the "Due Point". So the flat bottom of the cloud marks the place where humid air turns into a visible cloud, because it gets cold enough at that particular altitude,..that the moisture becomes visible,..So an appearing,..flat bottom,.to the cloud,...

    Source(s): Trivia 101
  • Arasan
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Clouds and fog form when the ambient temperature of the air reaches the condensation point,the point at which water vapour becomes liquid.When it reaches this point ,the liquid collects on the dust particles in the air(condensation nuclei) and becomes visible.This results in the formation of clouds.When the altitude of the condensation point is low enough for a cloud to form at ground level,then we call it as fog.Various factors such as the pressure at a given altitude,moisture content of the air etc influence in the formation of clouds,but,air temperature is the deciding factor.

    In given volume of air,the temperature is usually uniform horizontally,but it varies vertically because temperature decreases with altitude.This means that the condensation point is also horizontally uniform at a given altitude.Above this altitude,water vapour will condense out to form clouds,below it ,water will remain in gaseous state.Therefore the bottoms of most clouds will appear flat.

    As the cloud stretches high up into the sky,it will draw in, the drier and clearer surrounding air.The cloud will then start to evaporate and erode,giving the 'fluffy' look at the top.

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, you already got a pretty good answer (though I've never heard of air "parcels" before.)

    So here's the dumb answer: They have flat bottoms because they sit around on concrete floors all day and when they finally stand up their butts are totally flattened out.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Easy answer. They don't. Now shut up.

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