Cirrus Vertebratus

Credit Jen Scheer - CC-BY-SA - tap for larger

Credit Jen Scheer – CC-BY-SA – tap for larger

Cloud of the Day – Cirrus Vertebratus

Cirrus vertebratus gets its name from its appearance. It resembles a vertebral column, or a fish skeleton with ribs radiating away from the spine. It’s really only given a name of its own, rather than simply being an example of cirrus cloud, because of the fact that it kind of looks like something.

Credit Nicholas Brockbank

Credit Nicholas Brockbank

The alternating gaps and cloud are caused by undulating air, drying as it sinks and warms, and condensing into cloud where it rises and cools. Vertebratus does have one thing going for it that gives it some significance: it can reveal the location of the Jet Stream. And speaking of jets, their condensation trails can sometimes turn into cirrus vertebratus.

Credit Tim Middleton

Credit Tim Middleton

There’s no weather associated with vertebratus, but like any cirrus it can be a harbinger.


2 comments for “Cirrus Vertebratus

  1. June 24, 2015 at 21:31

    ‘It looks like something’. Love the science in that statement! 😉
    Great pics as usual.

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