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Why Do Clouds Stay Up Clouds form from water that has evaporated from lakes oceans and rivers or from moist soil and plants Clouds are water droplets and water is heavy so how do they stay up There are several reasons but the most important reason clouds stay up is because warm air rises Air can hold only a certain amount of water vapor at any given temperature Warm air can hold more water vapor than cool air can When any air rises in the open atmosphere it moves into a region of lower pressure expands and the temperature of the air falls in other words rising air normally gets colder However if the rising air is full of evaporated water the falling temperature can cause the water vapor to condense change to a liquid and become a white mist made of tiny droplets For water vapor to condense particles so small they can be seen only through a microscope must be present These particles called condensation nuclei become the centers of the droplets Many condensation nuclei are tiny salt particles or small particles present in smoke Most droplets measure from 12500 to 1250 inch 001 to 01 millimeter in diameter When condensation takes place energy is released so the water-filled air becomes warmer than surrounding air as it rises This is why clouds stay suspended in the sky Another reason clouds stay up is that evaporated water is a gas like any other gas So does this gas rise like Helium or fall like Carbon Dioxide Here are some molecular weights GasWeight H22 He4 H2O18 N224 O232 CO244 According to the above gas weight you can see that water-gas or evaporated water is a lot heavier than hydrogen or helium gas Yet it is lighter than air and also lighter than Nitrogen or Oxygen Therefore if evaporated water is mixed with air that air will rise Cumulus clouds the white puffy clouds
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