Recent searches (0)
FOR AGES 3 YEARS TO 18 YEARS
Pink clouds are a common occurrence at the time of dawn or dusk, beautifully painting the sky giving a visual treat to its spectators.
The pink or red sky we see is a result of the different wavelengths of sunlight that fall on the clouds. When the blue and green colors of the visible spectrum scatter more than the red and orange colors, the shades of the clouds appear pink, red, or peach in color.
Whenever we think of clouds we either think of the fluffy white clouds on a blue sky or the rain-bearing dark gray clouds. But thanks to the incoming solar radiation, the visible white light that illuminates the Earth displays a multitude of bewildering shades of varying colors, painting the sky. All clouds are made up of water vapor that is condensed into closely packed accumulations of water droplets or ice crystals. Depending on the size, height, and angle of the sun, the clouds display various colors. Each of these tiny ice crystals or water droplets accumulate around dust particles that act as condensation nuclei, around which water or ice particles stick, forming various types of clouds. The cloud's thickness decides whether all the rays of the sun can penetrate through most clouds reflecting a white cloud color or only a few colors will scatter, displaying specific colors. The occurrence of a pink sky we see at sunrise or sunset depends on a variety of factors like the type of cloud, the angle of the sun's light rays, and many more.
Want to find out more about the pink sky and its relation to sunlight? Read on to know enticing facts about the pink sky. Also, have a look at these fun articles about the highest clouds in the sky and are clouds heavy here.
As opposed to the popular belief that clouds emit colors of their own, you will be surprised to know that clouds have no color of their own, that is, they are colorless.
When the white sun rays fall on a cloud, the cloud droplets act as a prism, separating the colors present in the white light, thereby scattering the colors in the atmosphere. However, as light travels in the form of waves, not all colors have the same wavelengths. Cool colors like violet, indigo, blue, and green have shorter wavelengths while warm colors like yellow, orange and red have longer wavelengths. This results in the cool colors scattering faster and longer than the warm colors, which scatter less and makes the warm colors visible to our naked eye. The angle of the sun with respect to the sky's horizon plays a major role in the creation of the pink sky. When the sun lies overhead or at an angle of 90 degrees, the distance traversed by the sun to reach the Earth is the least, hence the white light is scattered less, resulting in the scattering of only the blue light having the shortest wavelength. This makes the sky appear blue in the morning.
But at the time of sunrise or sunset when the angle of the sun is the least (10 degrees) with respect to the Earth's horizon, the rays of sunlight have to travel farther distance across the layers of the atmosphere. When the white sunlight hits a tropospheric cloud, the cloud acts as a prism breaking the white light into the seven colors of the visible spectrum. As a result, all the colors having short or long wavelengths get scattered. The green and blue light having the shorter wavelengths scatter so much so that they no longer remain visible while yellow, orange, and red colors with longer wavelengths scatter less and give the optical illusion of pinkish-red toned clouds covering the sky. Hence, the sky and the clouds appear pink at the time of sunrise and sunset because of the lowest angle of the sun with respect to the atmosphere's horizon.
As different kinds of clouds give hints of the oncoming weather changes, similarly, the pink clouds also help in deducing conclusions about the weather of a particular area.
Looking at the pink and fiery red clouds in the early mornings might look mesmerizing but they are indicative of oncoming perilous weather just before a thunderstorm or a tornado. But a pinkish night sky is often called a 'Sailors' delight', portraying a high-pressure zone with good weather conditions that have arrived after intense thunderstorm activity. Pink clouds floating from the west means they are taking away the moisture-laden clouds to somewhere else, while pink clouds in the east at sunrise indicates an approaching intense rainfall activity. Hence, a pink sky in the west in the evening signifying good weather is referred to as sailors' delight.
Since now you know the underlying cause of the occurrence of pink clouds, there lies no more mysteries to uncover.
The first reason for pink clouds is attributed to the low sun angle with respect to the horizon at the time of sunrise and sunset. Secondly, the pink shade is formed in the thin clouds that are not as densely packed with water molecules, enabling more pink light to penetrate through it. Thirdly, the pink sky at night can be attributed to large-scale pollution in urban areas. Excess dust and aerosols suspended in the atmosphere diffuse and scatter light and only the longer wavelength light remains, making the clouds appear pink color or a pinkish-red sky at night.
There occurs no vivid environmental changes because of the occurrence of pink clouds, however, it helps in weather predictions of the near future.
Often you will find pink towering clouds with a blue-gray cloud base. These clouds are the cumulonimbus clouds that have a grayish base with a heap of densely packed water droplets lying above them. They are indicative of an approaching thunderstorm. In temperate or colder regions, snowfall is often associated with the pink-toned cloud-covered sky. When sunlight falls on a thick cloud, laden with larger droplets of water in the frozen form, the white light fails to pass through it and gets refracted. As a result, the falling snowflakes or the ice particles of the cloud act as a prism, scattering the white sheet of light. This kickstarts the scattering of the shorter wavelength blue color at first, which ultimately gets diffused and remains no longer visible. Thereafter, the longer wavelength light scatters the least, reflecting the pink shade through the cloud droplets, thereby turning the sky into pink during the time of snowfall.
Pollution in urban areas leads to the exposure of increased aerosols in the atmosphere that speeds up the refraction of more light from the cloud base, as a result, the clouds appear in shades of pink, red, yellow, or orange. During the fall or in winters, the occurrence of pinky skies increases than in any other time of the year, as most of the dust particles circulate in the lower levels of the troposphere, helping in the widescale refraction of more light.
Milky white fluffy cumulus clouds have the water droplets compacted so densely that no amount of white light can penetrate through them. Hence all other colors present in the white light don't get the chance of refracting and scattering, reflecting vivid white light, that we see in the form of white clouds.
White clouds are typically seen throughout the mornings when the sun is at a high angle from the Earth's horizon, filling the sky with shades of blue colors as it scatters the most because of its shortest wavelength.
Blue-gray or gray clouds are nimbus clouds, bringing rainfall along with them. While the gray nimbostratus clouds bring drizzles, the cumulonimbus usher heavy thunderstorms along with lightning activities.
The formation of yellowish clouds depends on the level of air pollution in a city. As sunlight falls on the clouds that are built around excess dust or smoke coming from vehicular combustion, industries, forest fires, or volcanoes, yellow clouds occur. The yellow clouds are attributed to the presence of excess nitrous oxides in the atmosphere because of pollution and can often lead to acid rain.
Unlike the pink cloud, the yellow cloud can be spotted at any time of the day and not just at sunrise or sunset.
Green clouds or greenish clouds are often associated with the oncoming of a massive thunderstorm or tornado along with lightning, thunder, and a hailstorm.
Rainbow clouds are a beautiful rare sighting for the keen observers of the sky. A myriad of colors occurring in a rainbow can be seen through a cloud when the white light gets refracted by the ice crystals of a thin and wispy cloud, like the high altitude cirrus cloud. All colors of different wavelengths refract through this cloud, hence the white light reflects the colors of a rainbow through this rainbow cloud.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for what do pink clouds mean, then why not take a look at are rainbows real or Australian rainforest facts?
Read The Disclaimer
We also link to other websites, but are not responsible for their content.