“Understanding Clouds” is the theme of World Meteorological Day 2017 to highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water. According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), clouds are central to weather observations and forecasts, adding that clouds are one of the key uncertainties in the study of climate change.
“We need to better understand how clouds affect the climate and how a changing climate will affect clouds,” the UN body adds, pointing out that clouds play a critical role in the water cycle and shaping the global distribution of water resources.
On the lighter side, the World Meteorological Day provides an opportunity to celebrate the inherent beauty and aesthetic appeal of clouds, which has inspired artists, poets, musicians, photographers and countless other enthusiasts throughout history.
Also, the World Meteorological Day marked the launch of a new edition of the International Cloud Atlas after what is considered the most thorough and far-reaching revision in its long and distinguished history. The new WMO Atlas is regarded as a treasure trove of hundreds of images of clouds, including a few newly classified cloud types. It also features other meteorological phenomena such as rainbows, halos, snow devils and hailstones. For the first time ever, the Atlas has been produced in a digital format and is accessible via both computers and mobile devices.
The International Cloud Atlas is said to be the single authoritative and most comprehensive reference for identifying clouds. It is considered to be an essential training tool for professionals in the meteorological community and those working in aviation and shipping. Its reputation is legendary among cloud enthusiasts.
The WMO says: “The International Cloud Atlas has its roots in the late 19th century. It was revised on several occasions in the 20th century, most recently in 1987, as a hard copy book, before the advent of the Internet.
“Advances in science, technology and photography prompted WMO to undertake the ambitious and exhaustive task of revising and updating the Atlas with images contributed by meteorologists, cloud watchers and photographers from around the world.”