Cloud Study (Rena Benor)


To observe cloud types and cover. To observe changes in clouds over time. To compare cloud coverage with temperature.


1. What do you notice about clouds?  2. How long do you think clouds last?  3. Are there different kinds of clouds?  4. Do some types of clouds signify certain types of precipitation? 5.  Do certain types of clouds correlate with geographic area? 6. Are cloud type and temperature related? 7. Are cloud types and humidity related?

Learning objectives

Students learn how to categorize clouds and make estimates from observation. Students correlate cloud coverage with temperature and pressure.


Grade Five

4. Energy from the Sun heats Earth unevenly, causing air movements that result in changing weather patterns. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know uneven heating of Earth causes air movements (convection currents).

b. Students know the influence that the ocean has on the weather and the role that the water cycle plays in weather patterns.

c. Students know the causes and effects of different types of severe weather.

Grade Six

c. Students know heat from Earth’s interior reaches the surface primarily through

convection. d. Students know convection currents distribute heat in the atmosphere and oceans.

Grades Nine through Twelfth

Climate is the long-term average of a region’s weather and depends on many factors.

Science Concepts

  •    Clouds form by condensation of water vapor in the atmosphere.
  •   Clouds affect weather and climate.
  •   The atmosphere has different properties at different altitudes.
  •   Water vapor is added to the atmosphere by evaporation from Earth’s surface and transpiration from plants.


Digital camera, stopwatch, Cloud Table (See attachment), Cloud identification chart (See references), thermometer, graph paper on a transparency.

Click here for online stopwatch:


1. Choose a day that predicts cloudy weather, usually right before it rains has changing cloud conditions. Mark a spot on the pavement outside to place a tripod and camera.  Aim at the sky, but keep a landmark visible in the picture for comparison purposes.  Take a picture at regular intervals, such as every 5 or 10 minutes.  Be sure to not change the zoom on the camera. Take between 12 - 20 pictures. Chart temperature and/or pressure along with time intervals.

2. When complete with step 1, upload photos onto Powerpoint or iMovie. Have a transparency made of graph paper at a copy center. Use it to calculate approximate percentage of cloud coverage by holding it over photos of clouds and approximating coverage. Plot and graph on Excel.

Data and graph

Weather Graphs in Northridge,CA  on  November 11, 2011.

Daily Graph
View Charts in attachments below.

Analysis & Conclusions
Cloud type and percentage of coverage changed quickly, within a matter of minutes.  Clouds changed quickly from 12 noon to 2pm as the barometer dropped from 29.88 to 29.82, as rain neared.  Cloud coverage did increase to 100% as the barometric pressure did drop. 
Wind increased from 5 mph to 14 mph and the direction moved from SW to more S.

Rena Benor,
Dec 11, 2011, 7:12 PM
Rena Benor,
Dec 11, 2011, 7:04 PM