Phenomena

Castle-like Clouds

An astronaut captured this towering cloud over Andros Island from orbit aboard the ISS. This is a cumulus castellanus cloud, named for the castle-like crenelations at its top. Castellanus clouds form in areas with strong vertical updrafts, often due to cloud-level atmospheric instabilities rather than heating at the Earth’s surface. These clouds frequently proceed rain or even thunderstorms. What distinguishes castellanus from other types of cumulonimbus clouds is their shape: castellanus clouds have protrusions that are taller than they are wide – like the castles for which they are named. (Image credit: NASA / Expedition 48; via NASA Earth Observatory)

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