A house next to the lock at the northern edge of Sugar House Island was home to Luke Howard (1772-1864), the man who devised the classification system for clouds.
Howard was a British manufacturing chemist and an amateur meteorologist. He was very interested in evaporation and its effect on clouds, maintaining that no cloud could ever be permanent but that they are ever changing. He asserted that water evaporates from the earth and disappears until it is once again visible in the form of a cloud.
Howard introduced three basic cloud types using Latin names (as Linneaus had done) and based on three simple categories (cirrus, cumulus and stratus), which we still use today. This paper was presented to the Askesian society, under the title "On the Modifications of Clouds." In his later work "The Climate of London" he also introduced the term nimbus and terms for intermediate or altered clouds, such as cumulo-stratus (stratocumulus) or cirrocumulus.
Howard was the first person to recognise the effect that urban areas have on local climate, called “The Urban Heat Island Phenomenon.” His discovery led to an award being named after him given in the field of urban climatology.
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Cirrus (meaning a curl of hair), Howard described as "parallel, flexuous, or diverging fibres, extensible in any or all directions"
Cumulus (meaning heap), is "convex or conical heaps, increasing upward from a horizontal base"
Stratus (meaning something spread), is "a widely extended, continuous, horizontal sheet, increasing from below".
Howard combined these names to form four more cloud types:
Cirro-cumulus, a "small, well-defined roundish masses, in close horizontal arrangement"
Cirro-stratus, a "horizontal or slightly inclined masses, attenuated towards a part or the whole of their circumference, bent downward, or undulated, separate, or in groups consisting of small clouds having these characters";
Cumulostratus, "the cirrostratus blended with the cumulus, and either appearing intermixed with the heaps of the latter, or super-adding a widespread structure to its base"
Cumulo-cirro-stratus or Nimbus, the rain cloud, "a cloud or system of clouds from which rain is falling".