The natural world is full with wondrous phenomena, each of which has the potential to steal our breath in its own unique manner. But have you ever seen an iridescent pileus cloud?
Puning City, located in Guangdong Province in southern China, was the site of an unusual event in which a pileus cloud took on the appearance of multicolored iridescence. At first view, it seems to be a rainbow, but upon closer inspection, it turns out to be a cloud, India Times reports.
The multicolored cloud was attached to the larger cumulus cloud nearby. Puning City’s charming backdrop added to the spectacle of the natural phenomenon’s vivid hues, which were very stunning to begin with.
Pileus clouds are smooth clouds that develop on top of a rising cumulus or cumulonimbus cloud. They are also commonly referred to as cap clouds or scarf clouds.
Science Girl took to Twitter to provide the jaw-dropping video. The tweet is accompanied by a caption that says, “A spectacular Iridescent pileus cloud.”
The video has garnered more than millions of views and almost 1 million likes.
The presence of very minute ice crystals or water droplets in the atmosphere is the root cause of iridescent pileus clouds. Smaller ice crystals and water droplets allow light to be diffracted, or stretched out, generating a rainbow-like appearance in the clouds, while larger ice crystals generate solar or lunar halos.
Pileus clouds often only last for a brief period of time because the principal cloud that lies underneath them might rise via convection and absorb them. They are produced when a powerful updraft at lower altitudes acts with moist air above, forcing the air to cool below its dew point, which creates the stunning effect.
It is necessary that the clouds be very airy and composed of ice crystals or water droplets of the same size. Lenticular clouds, alto-cumulus clouds, cirrus clouds, and cirrocumulus clouds are the most likely types of clouds to exhibit iridescence.
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