'Cloud Atlas' May Get Rare New Addition

'Cloud Appreciation Society' founder fights for his find
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2014 9:04 AM CDT

It's not often that a brand-"new" cloud comes along; in fact, none have been added to the International Cloud Atlas, maintained by the World Meteorological Organization, since 1951. But a cloud activist is pushing to change that, Popular Science reports. Gavin Pretor-Pinney wants to get a cloud dubbed "undulatus asperatus," or "volatile waves," added to the atlas. Pretor-Pinney is the man behind the Cloud Appreciation Society, a group that feels "clouds are unjustly maligned." The Society sees the humor in its efforts, the Verge notes, but its members number in the tens of thousands in nearly 100 countries, and the likes of Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, and Snoop Dogg have spoken at its events, says the organization's site.

Pretor-Pinney has been seeking the new cloud category after receiving pictures of clouds that don't seem to have a home in the current naming system. "They were more turbulent, more confused" than clouds known as typical undulates, "as if you were underneath the water looking up toward the surface when the sea is particularly disturbed and chaotic." More technically, a World Meteorological Organization task force calls the new cloud "a formation made up of well-defined, wave-like structures in the underside of the cloud, similar to undulates, but with less horizontal organization." It's not guaranteed to appear in the next edition of the Cloud Atlas, but the odds are "very high," a member tells the Verge. (Another spot that might need such an atlas: Titan, one of Saturn's moons.)

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