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Asperatus: New cloud formation named
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of BBC News

BBC News, June 2, 2009
Posted: June 29th, 2009

A cloudspotter from Somerset believes he has identified a new type of cloud. Gavin Pretor-Pinney, from Somerton, who also founded the Cloud Appreciation Society, wants recognition for what he has named the asperatus cloud. He said: "It looks quite violent - as if you are looking up from underneath the turbulent surface of the sea." Weather forecaster Michael Fish told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he thinks it is caused by a mixing of two air masses or the bottom of a storm cloud. Mr Pretor-Pinney, who wrote the Cloudspotter's Guide ... asked his cousin - who is a Latin teacher - for a word that means choppy or turbulent that is used to describe the sea to name the cloud after. "Asperatus comes from the Latin verb aspero meaning 'to roughen up' or 'agitate'," he said. "It was used by the poet Virgil to describe the surface of a choppy sea." Mr Fish said he was "quite amazed" by pictures showing clouds fitting Mr Pretor-Pinney's asperatus description. There has been no change to the classifications of clouds since 1953 and maybe this should be considered now. I can offer two explanations - they are either the mixing of two air masses - very warm humid air and and very cold dry air and it is like oil and water - it doesn't mix. These clouds could be formed at the boundary of these two air masses. Or ... they could be the turbulent underbelly of one of the huge thunder clouds." Mr Pretor-Pinney said the pictures were sent in by cloud society members from all over the world and some of them said there was no storm activity or heavy precipitation in the area at the time.

Note: How strange that a new type of cloud is now appearing. What changes could be causing this new formation? For more photos of these most unusual new clouds, click here. Or visit the Cloud Appreciation Society, founded by Mr. Pretor-Pinney.

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