Skip to main content

Asperitas: How a Tasmanian geologist helped classify a new type of cloud

Man on a beach looking up at the sky
Gary McArthur has a passion for all things skyward.

Supplied: Gary McArthur

Gary McArthur's head has always been in the clouds.

Now his passion for all things skyward has been recognised by the World Meteorological Organisation.

To mark World Meteorological Day, a new edition of the International Cloud Atlas has been launched; it is the definitive guide to clouds used by meteorologists and cloud enthusiasts around the globe.

This edition has 11 newly classified clouds in it, each with a photo deemed to be the best example of that type of cloud to help people identify them.

Asperitas cloud over Burnie
Gary McArthur's photo of asperitas cloud over Burnie has been chosen as the best example of the cloud.

Supplied: Gary McArthur

For the cloud now known as asperitas, the editor's pick was one taken by Mr McArthur at Burnie in northern Tasmania.

"I was on my way to work and I thought, 'well that's most unusual'," he told Helen Shield on ABC Radio Hobart.

Skip gfycat embed

FireFox NVDA users - To access the following content, press 'M' to enter the iFrame.

Mr McArthur said he was fascinated with the weather growing up and had always wanted to become a meteorologist but never had the opportunity.

Instead he turned his gaze downward and became a geologist, working in and around the mining industry.

But his interest in clouds and the weather continued alongside his geology career.

"I lived in western Queensland for many years ... it was just deadly boring up there; six months and you didn't see a cloud.

"There's nothing worse than a boring, cloudless sky."

Mr McArthur said he was "chuffed" to have his photograph picked as the best example of the asperitas cloud.

"I was just lucky. The other entrants were just as good as far as I'm concerned.

"I think they picked mine because it had no enhancement. Some of the other photos had a bit too much enhancement and looked a bit too unreal."

Aerial photo of clouds over north west Tasmania
Gary McArthur photographs transient clouds from a plane.

Supplied: Gary McArthur