Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Pressure and Cloud Type
Name: Sam H.
Status: student
Age:  14
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Does the barometric pressure effect the cloud type?


An interesting question. I think not. The main factor affecting the cloud type is the stability of the air... which is a function of temperature and humidity. Warm humid air is less stable and is more likely to develop cumuloform clouds.

The only relationship I sense to barometric pressure is that areas of high pressure are more association with stable air... lows with unstable air.

Thinking a step further, areas of high pressure generally have clear skies that allow the sun to heat the surface of the earth that in turn heats the air making it less stable. These heated areas create instability.

Interesting question. I will be interested in seeing how others answer this question... but for now I stick with my first thought.... I think barometric pressure does not directly affect cloud type.

Larry Krengel

Dear Sam-

Barometric pressure usually does not have any determination on the type of clouds present. The cloud types are a factor of the amount of moisture present at a given altitude, and whether the air is being "lifted" or is subsiding... ...subsiding air in a layer usually indicates clouds dissipating...and air converging, or being lifted, usually indicates cloud formation.

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St Louis, MO


The barometric pressure doesn't directly affect cloud type.

However, certain cloud types are more common during certain atmospheric pressure conditions, because of the dynamics involved in those weather systems. For instance, in low pressure areas you are more likely to get stratus clouds and embedded cumulonimbus. In high pressure systems you get "fair weather" cumulus, cirrus (especially from jet contrails), altocumulus (especially ahead of thunderstorms), cumulus congestus (tall cumulus), isolated cumulonimbus, and cumulonimbus embedded in squall lines in from of a cold front.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory

Click here to return to the Weather Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory