In science, precipitation is the process behind the condensation of water vapour in the atmosphere that falls down under the influence of gravity. Rain and snow are the results of these phenomena.
What is Precipitation?
It is a chemical reaction in which you mix two solutions of two ionic substances and a solid ionic substance (a precipitate) forms.
For example, precipitation occurs when a part of the atmosphere saturates itself with water vapour and when the right temperature comes its condenses and precipitates. The two processes which make the air saturated are the cooling of air molecules and the addition of water vapour.
Types of Precipitation
Precipitation plays a major part in the water cycle as it is the one which brings in the deposit of freshwater on the planet. It can be divided into three categories depending upon the form such as:
- Liquid water
- Liquid water freezing when comes in contact with the surface.
Examples of Precipitation
Depending on the forms we could witness precipitation in various forms:
In Liquid Form precipitation occurs in:
When the above comes in contact with the air mass in subfreezing temperature it becomes
- Freezing Rain
- Freezing Drizzle
The frozen forms of precipitated water include:
- Ice Needles
Classification of Precipitation
Precipitation of water vapour can be classified into different things and have different methods of formation and few of them are
When water droplets combine each other to form bigger water droplets and when water droplets freeze onto a crystal of ice, this process is known as coalescence. The rate of the fall is considered to be negligible, that is the reason behind the clouds not falling of the sky.
Precipitation is only possible when those will form into larger drops by coalescence by the help of turbulence in which water droplets collide, producing even larger droplets. Eventually, the droplets descend and become heavy with coalescence and resistance and finally fall as rain.
Snow crystals form when the temperature freezes the tiny cloud droplets and because water droplets are more in number than ice crystals, the crystals can grow in size at the expense of water droplets as the water vapour causes the droplets to evaporate. These droplets fall from the atmosphere due to their mass as snowflakes.
Like other precipitation techniques, hail forms in the storm clouds when supercooled droplets come in contact with dust and dirt. The storm’s up draft blows the hailstones up and lifted again after the updraft dissipates.
In meteorology, any result of atmospheric water vapour condensation that comes under cloud gravity is precipitation. The main types of precipitation include drizzle, rain, sleet, snow, ice pellets, graupel, and hail. Precipitation happens when water vapour (reaching 100 per cent relative humidity) saturates a portion of the atmosphere so that the water condenses and ‘precipitates’ or falls. Fog and mist are thus not precipitation, but colloids, since the vapour of water does not condense enough to precipitate. Two processes may contribute to air being saturated, likely working together: cooling the air or adding water vapour to the air. As smaller droplets coalesce through collision with other rain drops or ice crystals within a cloud, precipitation forms. Quick, heavy bursts of rain are called “showers” in scattered areas.
Precipitation is a significant component of the cycle of water and is responsible for the accumulation of much of the planet’s fresh water. Per year, about 505,000 km3 (121,000 mi3) of water falls as precipitation, 398,000 km3 (95,000 cu mi) of it over the oceans. Given the surface area of the Earth, this means that the annual precipitation is 990 millimetres (39 in) globally averaged.
To learn more about precipitation, register with BYJU’S and download our app.