World Meteorological Day 2017: Understanding Clouds

by MetService communications meteorologist Lisa Murray

Each year meteorologists around the world celebrate a chosen theme to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on the 23rd of March in 1950. “Understanding Clouds” is the theme of World Meteorological Day this year, to highlight the enormous importance of clouds for weather climate and water.

Weather for Flying - Turbulence

Have you ever thought that for aeroplane pilots, every day at work is a blue-sky day? Soaring above the clouds you might think that the weather isn’t such a big deal. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pilots are dependent on weather information at every stage in their flights. In this blog post, we discuss one crucial aspect of aviation weather that affects both pilots and passengers – turbulence.

The nature of turbulence

Layers and streets of cloud

Clouds come in many different types and are characterised and named according to both their shape and height in the atmosphere.  While a single snapshot in time at a given location may only contain one type of cloud, there are many days when multiple cloud types can be observed in the sky at once. The satellite images below is a nice example of different cloud types sitting at different levels above Waikato. Here's what the satellite image looked like Saturday afternoon 3 July 2010, for southwestern parts of Waikato near Kawhia Harbour:

It must have been an insightful man...

It must have been an insightful man who decided to build the new meteorological office on the end of the ridge above the Botanical Gardens. If you are lucky you can observe some beautiful meteorology from the roof of the building. The Director at the time, Dr John Gabities, probably had a big say in the matter. Being a meteorologist himself, he would have appreciated the value of that siting.  At lunch time on Friday (22 January 2010), I was on the roof and noticed a little drama unfolding on the harbour and took a photo with my cell phone.