Difference Between Clouds and Fog

Difference Between Clouds and Fog

Clouds look like white cotton-like objects, which are beautifully visible in the sky. They are called clouds and they can be seen every day from Earth by gazing up there to admire them. Clouds play a crucial role in the water cycle. At various heights, clouds can form. The height of clouds varies greatly. They can be as high as 20 km, and they can also hover near the ground to form a low cloud layer. So, Fogs are a type of low-lying cloud. Fog can be seen throughout the winter months, but it has a negative impact on vision.

Clouds Vs. Fog

Despite being made up of the same molecules, clouds and fog have some major differences. Clouds form when water vapor changes into liquid and forms on microscopic particles like dust, whereas fog forms when the air near the ground cools sufficiently to turn its water vapor into liquid or ice. Fog is much closer to the ground than clouds, which are made up of water vapor that has turned into liquid and collected on tiny particles like dust.

Fogs are formed only at the ground level, while clouds are seen at every altitude. Clouds are found any time of the year regardless of the season, whereas fog is seen only during the cold.

What are Clouds?

Clouds are a suspended mass of ice particles or liquid drops in the atmosphere. They play an essential role in the water cycle and have an impact on the environment on Earth. There are ten different types of clouds, which include three levels:

High-Level Cloud: There’re 3 high-level clouds:

  1. Cirrus(Ci): These clouds can appear as white patches floating in the blue sky at times. They turn a vivid red or yellow color just before and after sunrise and sunset. They are also made up of ice crystals.
  2. Cirrocumulus(Cs): Cirrocumulus clouds are a type of cloud that appears as white patches scattered in the sky. They can also be layered and appear without shadowing, which would make them impossible to see if they didn’t move or change shape.
  3. Cirrostratus: This type of cloud is a sheet or veil that is more like white butter paper. It doesn’t block the sun’s rays; it lets them go through to provide light for us during the day.

Mid-Level Cloud: There’re 3 types of mid-level clouds:

  1. Altocumulus (Ac): These clouds have a layered appearance with grey and white patches, but they also can be multicolored and seem like they are made up of many different small pieces. These types as little finger widths in most cases.
  2. Altostratus (As): They are sheets of clouds that cover the sky in a partial or total way. They have an almost white-bluish grey appearance and they’re somewhat transparent.
  3. Nimbostratus(Ns): These are the dark gray-colored, opaque layer of cloud that does not allow sunlight to pass through them. It happens when rain or snowfalls, and the top of cumulus clouds come close enough to the surface (or sometimes even touches) so that they overlap with each other.

Low-Level Cloud: There’re 4 kinds of low-level clouds:

  1. Cumulus (Cu): There are clouds in the sky that form into towers, buildings. They have sharp outlines and dense centers.
  2. Cumulonimbus (Cb): This is a huge, dense storm cloud. It looks like a mountain because it can be as big as 10 miles in diameter and more than 28,000 feet above sea level!
  3. Stratocumulus (Sc): A layer of clouds known as stratocumulus (Sc) has a honeycomb-like appearance. It looks like grey or whitish-colored layered clouds with a dark tint on top and lighter colors beneath.
  4. Stratus(St): Stratus is the name given to a cloud type with a dense and homogenous layer. These clouds create ice prisms, snow grains, and other ice-related phenomena.

Clouds are formed when water vapor drops from the sky, which turns into ice particles and rain. Droplets that fall to Earth can reach up to 100 miles per hour! When it rains, clouds go away because of evaporation in the form of condensation on objects or plants. Sometimes they might return even if there wasn’t any precipitation recently. Then water vapor forms in the air by condensing on dust particles. These vapors of liquid are then drawn or forced down to the earth, forming clouds that form from drops raining from these cloud-like formations.

What is Fog?

Fog is an atmospheric cloud made up of small water droplets or ice crystals floating in the air near the earth’s surface. Climatic conditions, rivers and lakes, and other factors that impact it.

There’re eight types of fogs that are seen, they’re:

  1. Radiation Fog: When the temperature of the atmosphere is at or below the dew point and there is no solar energy on the earth’s surface, Radiation Fog occurs.
  2. Precipitation Fog: Precipitation Fog is a type of fog that forms in the presence of rain and cold air. It’s usually seen with warm fronts but it can happen as well with cold fronts.
  3. Advection Fog: This fog forms when winds are blowing over the surface and heat from those winds falls on the ground. The result is a type of low-lying mist that hovers in motionless air, which could be seen as an anticyclone forming at ground level.
  4. Steam Fog: The Steam Fog is a fog that occurs when cool air from the lake meets warm, humid air. This usually happens during the autumn or winter months.
  5. Upslope Fog: A fog forms by the process in which descending air warms up and ascending air cools down.
  6. Valley Fog: Valley Fog occurs when moist soil picks up and condenses water vapor before it flows out of the valley.
  7. Freezing Fog: When the temperature drops below 0 degrees Celsius, freezing fog forms. When tiny droplets of freezing fog come into touch with an object, they freeze around it.
  8. Ice Fog: This type of fog is present in areas that are cold enough to freeze your breath. It is also seen at higher altitudes, where the temperatures reach below -10 degrees Celsius!

Fog is formed when the water vapor created during evaporation gets condensed at ground level.

Difference Between Clouds and Fog

  • One way to distinguish clouds from fog is that clouds are formed at a high altitude and go up into the sky whereas fog forms when condensation occurs near the ground. Clouds may be present anywhere, but it’s considered rare for there to be any inversions of temperature where you can see them form without being on a mountain or other elevated area.
  • Clouds are more significant than fog in certain regards because they participate in the hydrological cycle.
  • Throughout the year, there are clouds everywhere. Fog is only present in winter and cold places.
  • Fog appears denser than clouds because it can be seen from a distance. The density of fog is the same as that of the sky, about 0.05g/m3.
  • Fog doesn’t precipitate as much water back to the earth in the form of rain, but clouds do.


Fog is an atmospheric condition of low-level clouds that occurs when a cool, moist air parcel descends to the ground. Because condensation occurs at the surface level in the chilly air, fog can only exist in this environment. Clouds are a thing that impacts the environment on Earth. They play an essential role in water and also have an impact on it by playing a part in the cycle of life.