Mid-level clouds are especially understudied, says geoscientist

November 27th, 2010 - 5:39 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Nov 27 (ANI): A Texas A&M University geoscientist has said that clouds are the least-understood variable in the sky-especially the mid-level clouds.

Shaima Nasiri said that the mid-level clouds are so understudied that scientists have yet to develop a common nomenclature for them.

“We do not have a unified definition, so the scientific community can’t look at the statistics with a shared level of understanding. Also, because mid-level clouds are formed either from water droplets or ice crystals or a combination of both, they can be more difficult to model.

“Only in the past few years have we focused on the physical properties of mid-level clouds. This means that previous climate models are incomplete.

“All cloud formations are important tracers in the climate-change equation. But we must accurately define and measure the middle layer before we can have a complete picture,” said Nasiri.

Nasiri credited recent satellite technology for being the vehicle that gives scientists the facts and figures needed to fold the essence of clouds into climate-change formulas.

Sometimes, mid-level clouds can’t be seen or identified from the ground. And the high-flying cirrus layer can obscure them from the air. Altostratus and altocumulus are the common mid-level clouds, explained Nasiri.

But the line of demarcation between low, mid-level and high clouds is unclear, a problem for scientists because although clouds play a major role they are the least understood variable in climate change studies. (ANI)

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