Amateur cloud forged invention language meteorologist sky

The use of the terms cumulus, cirrus and stratus has become so widespread that it is easy to think that they have always been there, as immutable as the clouds themselves are prone to change. But as Richard Hamblyn shows, the history of these terms is surprisingly short, going back less than years. In , Luke Howard, a young British pharmacist and amateur scientist, presented the cloud classification system he had developed to a lecture audience in London. His system was popular from the start and proved to be more viable than any rival schemes, but it would still take almost a century, until , for his terms to become recognised as the international standard in the field. These days, the terms Howard introduced are omnipresent while their inventor has fallen into obscurity.
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The Invention of Clouds: How an Amateur Meteorologist Forged the Language of the Skies

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Understanding the sky - Atmospheric stuff | Books & arts | The Economist

A mackerel sky is a common term for clouds made up of rows of cirrocumulus or altocumulus clouds displaying an undulating, rippling pattern similar in appearance to fish scales ; [1] [2] this is caused by high altitude atmospheric waves. Cirrocumulus appears almost exclusively with cirrus some way ahead of a warm front and is a reliable forecaster that the weather is about to change. Other phrases in weather lore take mackerel skies as a sign of changeable weather. Examples include "Mackerel sky, mackerel sky.
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The Invention of Clouds

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Luke Howard was a Quaker druggist "chemist," in England who survived years of being an apprentice by staring at the skies. He was barred by the universities for being a Christian. Like many self-educated bright young Englishmen in the nineteenth century, he joined a discussion society that met and read papers. On a December evening in he read by the light of an Argand lamp "On the Modifications of Clouds. Printed in a journal, and as a book, this paper swept across Europe and the Atlantic.
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