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Why are Clouds White?


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A cloud is a visible accumulation of very tiny water droplets or solid ice crystals that float in the air (troposphere). Clouds are usually white in appearance due to the fact that it reflects (scatter) all the visible wavelengths of light from the sun.

The sun’s light, as explained in a previous post Why is the Sky Blue?, is made up of different colors (rainbow colors) that appear as a white light when combined. These colors can be demonstrated using a prism that scatters the Sun’s light (white light ).

The water droplets or ice crystals that make up the cloud reflect all the light of the seven visible wavelengths (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet) all together without dispersing each color. Thus, clouds are white because they effectively reflect the wavelengths of visible light spectrum of the sun (called Mie scattering) in all directions more or less equally.


Related Articles:
Why is the Sky Blue?
What is a rainbow?
Where do objects get their colors from?

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