Yesterday's search challenges:
1. (easy) What kind of a cloud is this? (And what's the other name that they're often called?)
There are many ways to answer this ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime. First, the ridiculous method.
A. Images are often given descriptive file names that can be useful. For instance, if you right click (PC) or control-click on the above image and select "Save image as" you'll see the original file name given by the author (in this case, me, when I saved the image file while writing the original post) as the suggested filename. Now THAT's a big hint! It's probably a roll-cloud. (Although of course you'd do the obvious search to confirm that.)
B. Ordinary keyword search. As I've said before, often the best strategy is to just describe what you see and search for that. In this case, a simple descriptive search for:
[ long cloud ]
in Image search gives you this:
which also leads quick to identifying this as a roll cloud. (You even see our lead photograph as the 3rd hit in the image search.)
C. Search-by-Image. Using that right-click/control-click trick (see A above) you can save the image to your local disk, then use search-by-image to upload the image file and search for it that way. See my 1MM video post about this.
By this point, you should know it's a roll cloud, also-known-as a morning glory cloud in Australia. And by this point you've probably already read the Wikipedia article on arcus clouds and know that a roll cloud is a specific type of arcus cloud.
2. (medium) If I only have 2 weeks for my vacation, where do you recommend I travel so I'll have a high chance of seeing them? When should I go there?
If you've read around on this topic, you've probably seen multiple references to roll clouds occurring frequently in Queensland Australia. That's a big hint to you that there's something going on in that part of the world. A quick search for:
[ Queensland roll cloud ]
yields a rich set of hits, all pointing to the Gulf of Carpentaria as the breeding ground for roll clouds / morning glory clouds near the village of Burketown. The roll clouds happen regularly enough that glider pilots from around the world come there to fly up around these spectacular clouds. That suggests a trip to Burketown, although given how remote it is, I'm going to want to REALLY see these clouds.
3. (harder) Can you find out if these cloud formations are happening now? Prove it with some current imagery! (Meaning, pictures from this week.)
When searching for something that's time limited, the search date filter is your tool of choice.
Now, what's a little surprising (to me) is that when I checked Images, the results were not so great. Sure, there were lots of images in that date range, but they were mostly people making posts about roll clouds. So it's true, but not helpful.
Instead, the go-to source for this kind of thing seems to be Video!
When I did my date-restricted search on Google Video, I found a lot of great examples taken in the past week.
Interestingly enough, several of these videos (from this week) are from Canada. Our neighbors are having some spectacular summer weather. Maybe I should be heading to Saskatchewan!
1. Try the simple things first. Picking up a hint from the filename seems too simple, but I find that it works a surprising number of times. (Except, of course, when the image filename is something like IMG003409.JPG) Likewise, the simplest possible descriptive search terms, [long cloud], is surprisingly effective.
2. Whenever you see repeated place names, take note. If you're seeing a place like "Queensland" mentioned over and over again, you might consider doing a search with that as an additional query term. The query [ roll cloud Queensland ] is remarkably good.
3. To find current events, a time filter on Video results is a great sampler. With video cameras basically blanketing the earth, this has become an impressive repository of the current state of everything darn near everywhere.
And if YOU see a roll cloud in the sky, take a picture and send it in!