Learning Lesson: Smoking Clouds

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Coal power plant, Kentucky

ERN Item Type: 

  • Classroom Activities


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Weather Service (NWS)


In a clean-air chamber (all solid particles are filtered out) a cloud will not form even with a relative humidity greater than 200%. While clouds are made up of droplets that are essentially distilled water, each droplet is not 100% pure. At the cloud droplet's core is a tiny water attracting particle upon which moisture collects and grows. This demonstration will show that just a small amount of nuclei (smoke) is all that is needed in the production of a cloud.

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