From Glossary of Meteorology
- A visible aggregate of minute water droplets and/or ice particles in the atmosphere above the earth's surface.
Cloud differs from fog only in that the latter is, by definition, close (a few meters) to the earth's surface. Clouds form in the free atmosphere as a result of condensation of water vapor in rising currents of air, or by the evaporation of the lowest stratum of fog. For condensation to occur at a low degree of supersaturation, there must be an abundance of cloud condensation nuclei for water clouds, or ice nuclei for ice-crystal clouds, at temperatures substantially above -40°C. The size of cloud drops varies from one cloud type to another, and within any given cloud there always exists a finite range of sizes. Generally, cloud drops (droplets) range from 1–100 μm in diameter, and hence are very much smaller than raindrops.
See cloud classification.