Q:

What is rainfall?

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Quick Answer

Rainfall is the result of water vapor condensing and precipitating, forming droplets that fall from clouds due to gravity. It is an important part of the water cycle.

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What is rainfall?
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Full Answer

Condensation occurs when the air cools and becomes saturated. Clouds form when water condenses on particles in the air. The air can be cooled in several ways. Adiabatic cooling is caused by rising and expanding air. Conductive cooling occurs when air is affected by a colder surface. Radiative cooling is caused by infrared radiation, and evaporative cooling occurs when the air is saturated due to evaporation.

All of these forms of cooling can lead to the saturation of the air, condensation and precipitation. These processes may lead to the formation of clouds and water droplets, which leave the air as rainfall.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How does precipitation form?

    A:

    Precipitation forms when condensation inside clouds occurs at the level that the droplets become heavy enough to fall down to the Earth's surface. Rain, hail, freezing rain, snow and sleet are all types of precipitation that result from different conditions in the atmosphere.

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  • Q:

    What causes rain?

    A:

    Any time the droplets in clouds grow and come together to form drops that are large enough to create a speed of falling that is greater than the speed at which the cloud is blowing upward, then they head downward, and if they make it down without evaporating, people on the ground experience them as rain or snow. Sometimes rain evaporates again and heads back up into the clouds. The greater the amount of water vapor under the cloud and the stronger the winds on the updraft, the more likely precipitation becomes.

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  • Q:

    What is convectional rainfall?

    A:

    Convectional rainfall occurs when the warm air deflected from a landform rises and forms rain clouds. Convectional rainfall is very common in tropical areas as well as areas in southeastern England.

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  • Q:

    How does rain happen?

    A:

    Rain occurs through the process of coalescence, where a mass of water droplets gathers around cloud condensation nuclei to saturate the atmosphere and allow condensation and precipitation to take place. This process is driven by three primary lifting mechanisms that cause the upward movement of air.

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