The cloud species Volutus has been officially named as a new species of cloud in the World Meteorological Organization’s Cloud Atlas. The new cloud species name will now be used by meteorologists operationally around the world. 

As well as a new species, several new ‘special clouds’ and supplementary features of existing cloud types have been officially recognised in the atlas which is the official publication of cloud types. It is used as a reference document by operational meteorologists around the world and is also an important training tool for meteorologists, as well as for those working in aviation and at sea.

Special clouds named in the new edition include: Flammagenitus, which are clouds formed as a result of forest fires; and Homogenitus, which denotes man-made or anthropogenic clouds such as those which form over power station cooling towers. An example of a new supplementary feature is Asperitas, which are well defined wave-like structures in the underside of clouds.

Met Office Chief Executive Rob Varley said: “World Meteorological Day provides a fantastic opportunity for everyone to appreciate the importance and value that the weather can bring to the globe. Clouds play a key role in the function of our planet’s climate system and the naming of the new Volutus species of cloud shows that we are continually learning and developing our understanding.”

The new edition of the WMO Cloud Atlas will be available online for the first time, with official definitions, imagery and information on all of the clouds including the new additions.

Various resources for World Meteorological Day are available on the World Meteorological Organization website. The day is marked on 23 March each year to commemorate the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization in 1950 and aims to raise awareness of meteorology and its importance to the safety and wellbeing of society.