Non-vertical or single-étage genera are listed and summarised below in approximate descending order of the altitude at which each is normally based. Multi-étage clouds with significant vertical extent are separately listed and summarised in approximate ascending order of instability or convective activity.
Clouds of the high étage form at altitudes of 3,000 to 7,600 m (10,000 to 25,000 ft) in the , 5,000 to 12,200 m (16,500 to 40,000 ft) in the and 6,100 to 18,300 m (20,000 to 60,000 ft) in the . All cirriform clouds are classified as high and thus constitute a single genus (Ci). Stratocumuliform and stratiform clouds in the high étage carry the prefix , yielding the respective genus names (Cc) and (Cs). When comparatively low-resolution satellite images of high clouds are analized without supporting data from direct human observations, it becomes impossible to distinguish between individual genus types which are then collectively identified as cirrus-type.
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The largest free-convective clouds comprise the genus which are multi-étage because of their great vertical extent. They occur in highly unstable air and often have complex structures that include cirriform tops and multiple accessory clouds.
Cumuliform clouds generally appear in isolated heaps. They are the product of localized but generally lift where there are no inversion layers in the atmosphere to limit vertical growth. In general, small cumuliform clouds tend to indicate comparatively weak instability. Larger cumuliform types are a sign of moderate to strong atmospheric instability and convective activity. Depending on their vertical size, clouds of the genus-type may be low or multi-étage. Tufted altocumulus and cirrocumulus genera in the middle and high étages are also considered cumuliform because they have a more detached heaped structure than their layered stratocumuliform variants.