So, first and foremost, you’ve got to measure the cloud, to get an idea of how much space it takes on the sky. One way is to get in the car and drive across its shadow at a fixed speed. You’ve got to be pretty patient and wait for the sun to be overhead so that you can cross the cloud’s shadow very easily. Then you calculate distance driven= speed x timeIf you are one of those people with their heads in the clouds, you would probably think that clouds are these fluffy, lightweight beauties floating in the sky and helping us dream of Wonderland. They look quite light, right? But they are actually some floating elephants who somehow hang up there, in our sky and rain down on us most of the time. Some scientists have done the calculations and a cumulus cloud weights around 1.1 million pounds! Yes, you’ve heard that right, more than 100 elephants are constantly floating around your head, day in and day out. Try to look out at the sky now!
A cumulus cloud is a formation of clouds with flat bases and that fluffy appearance. They looks so puffy, but they’re actually mammoths. So, it’s a cloud, yes and it’s got to be fantastic, but still, 1.1 million pounds of water staying afloat in the sky? How does that happen? Well, actually a cloud is really big, it occupies a huge space on the sky and the droplets is made of are so tiny that it takes a few millions of them to make a proper, single raindrop. So, gravity doesn’t really have much of a effect on these minuscule drops of water. And there’s also the condensation, which makes them bouyant. We know, it’s quite hard to imagine such a thing! To give you a little scientific detail: the water density of a cloud is around 1/2 gram of water per cubic meter. For those of you who are more into science, do the math!
How do you calculate a cloud’s weight?
You can’t really take it from the sky and place it on a balance, can you? But you can do a little math trick together with a little bit of imagination to weigh it. So, let’s see what the scientists have come up with! Clouds begin to form at cold temperatures that makes the vapor condense into tiny droplets. They’re so tiny that they have been measured at about 0.5 grams per cubic meter. We said that before, yes. These are the cumulus clouds. There are also other types of clouds, some have a lower density than others, but we’ll focus on the cumulus cloud for calculation. They have an easier shape to measure.
So, first and foremost, you’ve got to measure the cloud, to get an idea of how much space it takes on the sky. One way is to get in the car and drive across its shadow at a fixed speed. You’ve got to be pretty patient and wait for the sun to be overhead so that you can cross the cloud’s shadow very easily. Then you calculate: Distance driven= Speed x Time. Typically, a cumulus cloud is about a kilometer long. Taking into account that it is also about as wide and tall as it is long, you can calculate the volume like this:
Volume = Length x Width x Height
Volume = 1000 meters x 1000 meters x 1000 meters
Volume = 1,000,000,000 cubic meters
Then, if you haven’t missed your Physics classes, you can easily calculate its density using the formula: Density = Mass / Volume. So, Mass= Density x Volume, so 0.5 grams per cubic meter = x / 1,000,000,000 cubic meters. Mass = 500,000,000 grams. Too much math? Well, the bottom line is: Clouds are incredibly heavy!