When is water white?

3 Modules 12 Articles Easy

About this course

White bubbles, ice, snow, cold breath, and clouds.


What makes them so white?  There is a common theme to many of the white colors in water.


Funnily enough, a lot it has to do with air.  


Feature image:

Snow, ice, water, cloudss.

 ravas51. IMG_2395. Flickr photo-sharing. Taken Feb 5, 2013


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Course Structure

4 Lessons

Module 1: Liquid and frozen water


This module is about water, both in liquid and frozen state. 


The feature image shows the whiteness of water when it is ice, bubbling down a waterfall, and snow. 


Feature image:

Frozen ice, snow and waterfall on the Ottauquechee River.

Taken from the Queeche covered bridge, Jan 2020.

Waves and bubbles

Liquid water is white when there is turbulence. 



Uneven air masses create white color


Water is also white when air bubbles are mixed in with frozen water molecules.

White ice, hail, and blue ice

Frozen ice cubes can look as if they have clouds in them.

3 Lessons

Module 2: What about fog?

Fog with its ghostly cold fingers. 

If fog is made of water droplets. How is it so murky?


Because the defining characteristic for fog is not liquid water, but water vapor.


Feature image:

tracyshaun. blanket of fog pouring over the headlands.

Flickr photo-sharing. Taken Oct 29, 2008.

Fog development is simple

Take warm water vapor molecules and cool them down. 

Fogged up mirrors

If fog were filled with minute water droplets, and water is clear, why is fog so murky?

What about the water droplets in fog?

Here's where the liquid droplets in fog come in.

5 Lessons

Module 3: What about clouds?

Clouds are my favorite structure.


They are so diverse.


And, yet, there is a common meaning to them that links them together. 


Feature image:

Chris Harrison. Clouds. Flickr.

Taken on June 15, 2010. 

The difference between fog and clouds

Fog and clouds develop in different ways.

The darkest layer

Nimbus clouds have dark layers on their underside. 


The more the air, the whiter the cloud

Why are clouds brilliantly white?

Different cloud shapes

Cloud shapes are as variable as the air, the wind, and the water vapor molecules that mix and match in the Troposphere.

The HUGE clouds

The cumulonimbus and the nimbostratus: Lots and lots of water vapor.