Wednesday, July 25, 2018

#0192 "Stratocumulus"

From the all of 1988...
I once heard an instructor tell a group of students and potential meteorologists that stratocumulus were "garbage" clouds. Nothing could be further from the truth. Certainly it can be a challenge to deduce all of the processes that create these clouds in the boundary layer of the atmosphere but just because one does not understand them is no reason to thoughtlessly dismiss or their beauty.

Heat, moisture and momentum are in constant flux between the ground and the atmosphere within the planetary boundary layer. Upward motion of these quantities typically result in stratocumulus. Each volume of cloud and every line has a story to tell. When one can understand all of those stories behind the lowly stratocumulus then you are ready to understand the boundary layer where most weather originates.

Clouds also go way beyond the four lines in Joni Mitchell's classic song "Both Sides, Now" that was appropriately on her "Clouds" album released in 1969. There are way more that two sides to a cloud and Joni realized that she "really didn't know clouds at all..." Classic indeed and what a terrifc and honest song. A meteorologist needs to do better at least on understanding clouds.

… I've looked at clouds from both sides now 
From up and down and still somehow 
It's cloud's illusions I recall 
I really don't know clouds at all…

I was admiring this particular chaotic mass of stratocumulus cloud looking northwest one summer evening in Schomberg across Mr Brown's farm. Something is only chaotic though if you cannot explain it. Once you understand the processes that make these clouds, they are not chaotic at all. All of those cloud edges are actually three-dimensional deformation skins that encapsulate every billow of moisture. Chaos theory does have its place in science but not at the plein air painting scale.

I would have painted this in the Under the Basement Stairs Studio of our home at 81 Western Avenue in Schomberg Ontario.
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