The Corpus Callosum

New Kind of Cloud

In 2008, we were
that a kind of cloud formation had been named: the mammatus
formation, so-called because it resembles a breast.  Sort
of.  Whatever.


A new development is more serious.  The Cloud Appreciation Society
has suggested that the name asperatus be given to clouds that
portray a particular kind of turbulence.


Flickr photo by Vince Perritano, Creative Commons license

Other, more dramatic examples can be seen at the BBC page, A
New Kind of Cloud?
, at National Geographic, New
Cloud Type Discovered?
, and, of course, at the Cloud Appreciation
Society, ‘Asperatus’,
a new variety of cloud?

Every schoolkid knows that there are four
main types
: nimbus, cirrus, stratus, and cumulus.  (Actually,
there are many cloud types, although many of the names are
derived from the four listed above.  Some are not: noctilucent
contrails, funnel clouds, to name a few.  See the Wikipedia page.) 
This classification had stood since 1953.  Why mess with it
now?  If you do, there’ll be committee meetings and newspaper
articles.  People will be chanting “Teach the Controversy!”

Then we will have to change all the textbooks (assuming the Texas Board
of Education goes along with the scheme, which may not happen


  1. #1 Jim
    June 8, 2009

    I’m not sure what to make of the first part of your article. Mammatus has been a recognized cloud form for decades. I have two meteorology books dated 1981 and 1982 which describe mammatus clouds. Where you being ‘tongue in cheek’?

    However the asperatus name is new to me. Thanks for the links.

  2. #2 Ian
    June 9, 2009

    As long as we’re naming clouds after body parts, why don’t we call the circular formation in the right margin of that first picture the “testiculatus”, and the three cloud formation directly under the mammatus (the two circulars and the cylindrical) the genitalus formation?

    We can probably name a whole bunch of others this way, too. The smaller ones in the background at left can be the pimplus, for example, and the circular pairs in the background at right can be the eyeballus. There’s really no end to this….

  3. #3 Bob
    June 29, 2009

    This new “Asperatus” is a Gravity wave cloud. Gravity waves are fast moving and dynamic formations.

  4. #4 Skylar
    May 3, 2010

    Then…what kind of clouds are these? It looks like combination of mammatus and asperatus?

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