Those clouds which appear on a blue sky are white because of such phenomenon as atmospheric scattering. When the sunlight is scattered, color effects depend on wavelengths within different ranges of the color spectrum. Nonselective scattering is observed when wavelengths of the light are scattered rather equally, and they produce a white color effect. Clouds consist of small water drops and crystals, but they are large in comparison to the light wavelengths (Petersen et al. 90). When they scatter the light, the focus is on the equal intensity of scattering; therefore, clouds appear to be white.
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The angles of the sunlight due to the position of the sun at sunset cause changes in the color of clouds during this period. At sunset, clouds are red because sharp angles of the sunlight make longer wavelengths enter the atmosphere, and they are easier to be seen by viewers in comparison to short light wavelengths. Long wavelengths are associated with red and orange colors in contrast to shorter wavelengths of a blue color. This phenomenon is known as “Mie scattering” named after Gustav Mie who has explained it (Petersen et al. 90).
The “Green Flash” is a phenomenon that can be seen in some sunsets in Hawaii and other places where it is possible to observe how the sun disappears below the flat horizon. One can see a brief flash of green over the sitting sun’s disk during a second or two (Zimmermann). The causes of this phenomenon are the processes of refraction and dispersion (Ackerman and Knox 171). Refraction is associated with bending the light, and different colors bend unequally. Blue color is observed during a long period of time, but when it is scattered, it is possible to see a green color that is refracted more than a red color.
Ackerman, Steven A., and John A. Knox. Meteorology. 4th ed., Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2015.
Petersen, James, et al. Physical Geography. 11th ed., Cengage Learning, 2016.
Zimmermann, Kim Ann. “Green Flash: Sunset Phenomenon.” LiveScience.com, 2017. Web.