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Chapter
1212
Moisture, Clouds,
and Precipitation
Water’s Changes of State
18.1 Water in the Atmosphere
 Precipitation is any form of water that falls
from a cloud.
 When it comes to understanding
atmospheric processes, water vapor is the
most important gas in the atmosphere.
Water’s Changes of State
18.1 Water in the Atmosphere
 Solid to Liquid
• The process of changing state, such as melting
ice, requires that energy be transferred in the form
of heat.
• Latent heat is the energy absorbed or released
during a change in state.
 Liquid to Gas
• Evaporation is the process of changing a liquid to
a gas.
• Condensation is the process where a gas, like
water vapor, changes to a liquid, like water.
Water’s Changes of State
18.1 Water in the Atmosphere
 Solid to Gas
• Sublimation is the conversion of a solid directly
to a gas without passing through the liquid state.
• Deposition is the conversion of a vapor directly
to a solid.
Changes of State
Humidity
18.1 Water in the Atmosphere
 Humidity is a general term for the amount
of water vapor in air.
• Air is saturated when it contains the maximum
quantity of water vapor that it can hold at any
given temperature and pressure.
• When saturated, warm air contains more water
vapor than cold saturated air.
 Saturation
Humidity
18.1 Water in the Atmosphere
• Relative humidity is a ratio of the air’s actual
water-vapor content compared with the amount
of water vapor air can hold at that temperature
and pressure.
• To summarize, when the water-vapor content of
air remains constant, lowering air temperature
causes an increase in relative humidity, and
raising air temperature causes a decrease in
relative humidity.
 Relative Humidity
Relative Humidity Varies
with Temperature
Humidity
18.1 Water in the Atmosphere
• Dew point is the temperature to which a parcel of air
would need to be cooled to reach saturation.
 Dew Point
• A hygrometer is an instrument to measure relative
humidity.
 Measuring Humidity
• A psychrometer is a hygrometer with dry- and wet-
bulb thermometers. Evaporation of water from the
wet bulb makes air temperature appear lower than
the dry bulb’s measurement. The two temperatures
are compared to determine the relative humidity.
Dew on a Spider Web
Sling Psychrometer
Air Compression and Expansion
18.2 Cloud Formation
• When air is allowed to expand, it cools, and
when it is compressed, it warms.
 Adiabatic Temperature Changes
• Dry adiabatic rate is the rate of cooling or
heating that applies only to unsaturated air.
 Expansion and Cooling
• Wet adiabatic rate is the rate of adiabatic
temperature change in saturated air.
Cloud Formation by Adiabatic Cooling
Processes That Lift Air
18.2 Cloud Formation
 Four mechanisms that can cause air to rise
are orographic lifting, frontal wedging,
convergence, and localized convective
lifting.
• Orographic lifting occurs when mountains act
as barriers to the flow of air, forcing the air to
ascend.
 Orographic Lifting
• The air cools adiabatically; clouds and
precipitation may result.
Processes That Lift Air
18.2 Cloud Formation
• A front is the boundary between two adjoining
air masses having contrasting characteristics.
 Frontal Wedging
Orographic Lifting and Frontal Wedging
Processes That Lift Air
18.2 Cloud Formation
• Convergence is when air flows together and
rises.
 Convergence
• Localized convective lifting occurs where
unequal surface heating causes pockets of air to
rise because of their buoyancy.
 Localized Convective Lifting
Convergence and Localized
Convective Lifting
Stability
18.2 Cloud Formation
• Stable air tends to remain in its original position,
while unstable air tends to rise.
 Density Differences
• Air stability is determined by measuring the
temperature of the atmosphere at various
heights.
 Stability Measurements
• The rate of change of air temperature with height
is called the environmental lapse rate.
Stability
18.2 Cloud Formation
• A temperature inversion occurs in a layer of
limited depth in the atmosphere where the
temperature increases rather than decreases with
height.
 Degrees of Stability
• When stable air is forced above the Earth’s
surface, the clouds that form are widespread and
have little vertical thickness compared to their
horizontal dimension.
 Stability and Daily Weather
Condensation
18.2 Cloud Formation
 For any form of condensation to occur, the
air must be saturated.
• Generally, there must be a surface for water
vapor to condense on.
 Types of Surfaces
• Condensation nuclei are tiny bits of particulate
matter that serve as surfaces on which water
vapor condenses when condensation occurs in
the air.
Types of Clouds
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 Clouds are classified on the basis of their
form and height.
• Cirrus (cirrus = curl of hair) are clouds that are
high, white, and thin.
• Cumulus (cumulus = a pile) are clouds that
consist of rounded individual cloud masses.
• Stratus (stratus = a layer) are clouds best
described as sheets or layers that cover much
or all of the sky.
Cirrus Clouds
Types of Clouds
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 High Clouds
• Cirrus clouds are high, white, and thin.
• Cirrostratus clouds are flat layers of clouds.
• Cirrocumulus clouds consist of fluffy masses.
 Middle Clouds
• Altostratus clouds create a uniform white to gray
sheet covering the sky with the sun or moon
visible as a bright spot.
• Altocumulus clouds are composed of rounded
masses that differ from cirrocumulus clouds in
that altocumulus clouds are larger and denser.
Types of Clouds
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 Low Clouds
• Stratus clouds are best described as sheets or
layers that cover much or all of the sky.
• Nimbostratus clouds are the main precipitation
makers.
• Stratocumulus clouds have a scalloped bottom
that appears as long parallel rolls or broken
rounded patches.
Cloud Classification
Types of Clouds
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 Clouds of Vertical Development
• Some clouds do not fit into any one of the three
height categories mentioned. Such clouds have
their bases in the low height range but often
extend upward into the middle or high altitudes.
Fog
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 Fog is defined as a cloud with its base at or
very near the ground.
• As the air cools, it becomes denser and drains
into low areas such as river valleys, where thick
fog accumulations may occur.
 Fog Caused by Cooling
• When cool air moves over warm water, enough
moisture may evaporate from the water surface
to produce saturation.
 Fog Caused by Evaporation
How Precipitation Forms
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 For precipitation to form, cloud droplets
must grow in volume by roughly one million
times.
• The Bergeron process is a theory that relates
the formation of precipitation to supercooled
clouds, freezing nuclei, and the different
saturation levels of ice and liquid water.
 Cold Cloud Precipitation
The Bergeron Process
How Precipitation Forms
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 Cold Cloud Precipitation
• Supercooled water is the condition of water
droplets that remain in the liquid state at
temperatures well below 0o
C.
• Supersaturated air is the condition of air that is
more concentrated than is normally possible
under given temperature and pressure
conditions.
How Precipitation Forms
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 Warm Cloud Precipitation
• The collision-coalescence process is a theory
of raindrop formation in warm clouds (above 0o
C)
in which large cloud droplets collide and join
together with smaller droplets to form a raindrop.
Forms of Precipitation
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
 The type of precipitation that reaches
Earth’s surface depends on the temperature
profile in the lower few kilometers of the
atmosphere.
• In meteorology, the term rain means drops of
water that fall from a cloud and have a diameter
of at least 0.5 mm.
 Rain and Snow
• At very low temperatures (when the moisture
content of air is low) light fluffy snow made up
of individual six-sided ice crystals forms.
Forms of Precipitation
18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation
• Sleet is the fall of clear-to-translucent ice.
 Rain and Snow
• Hail is produced in cumulonimbus clouds.
• Hailstones begin as small ice pellets that grow
by collecting supercooled water droplets as they
fall through a cloud.
Largest Recorded Hailstone

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Moisture, Clouds, and Precipitation

  • 2. Water’s Changes of State 18.1 Water in the Atmosphere  Precipitation is any form of water that falls from a cloud.  When it comes to understanding atmospheric processes, water vapor is the most important gas in the atmosphere.
  • 3. Water’s Changes of State 18.1 Water in the Atmosphere  Solid to Liquid • The process of changing state, such as melting ice, requires that energy be transferred in the form of heat. • Latent heat is the energy absorbed or released during a change in state.  Liquid to Gas • Evaporation is the process of changing a liquid to a gas. • Condensation is the process where a gas, like water vapor, changes to a liquid, like water.
  • 4. Water’s Changes of State 18.1 Water in the Atmosphere  Solid to Gas • Sublimation is the conversion of a solid directly to a gas without passing through the liquid state. • Deposition is the conversion of a vapor directly to a solid.
  • 6. Humidity 18.1 Water in the Atmosphere  Humidity is a general term for the amount of water vapor in air. • Air is saturated when it contains the maximum quantity of water vapor that it can hold at any given temperature and pressure. • When saturated, warm air contains more water vapor than cold saturated air.  Saturation
  • 7. Humidity 18.1 Water in the Atmosphere • Relative humidity is a ratio of the air’s actual water-vapor content compared with the amount of water vapor air can hold at that temperature and pressure. • To summarize, when the water-vapor content of air remains constant, lowering air temperature causes an increase in relative humidity, and raising air temperature causes a decrease in relative humidity.  Relative Humidity
  • 9. Humidity 18.1 Water in the Atmosphere • Dew point is the temperature to which a parcel of air would need to be cooled to reach saturation.  Dew Point • A hygrometer is an instrument to measure relative humidity.  Measuring Humidity • A psychrometer is a hygrometer with dry- and wet- bulb thermometers. Evaporation of water from the wet bulb makes air temperature appear lower than the dry bulb’s measurement. The two temperatures are compared to determine the relative humidity.
  • 10. Dew on a Spider Web
  • 12. Air Compression and Expansion 18.2 Cloud Formation • When air is allowed to expand, it cools, and when it is compressed, it warms.  Adiabatic Temperature Changes • Dry adiabatic rate is the rate of cooling or heating that applies only to unsaturated air.  Expansion and Cooling • Wet adiabatic rate is the rate of adiabatic temperature change in saturated air.
  • 13. Cloud Formation by Adiabatic Cooling
  • 14. Processes That Lift Air 18.2 Cloud Formation  Four mechanisms that can cause air to rise are orographic lifting, frontal wedging, convergence, and localized convective lifting. • Orographic lifting occurs when mountains act as barriers to the flow of air, forcing the air to ascend.  Orographic Lifting • The air cools adiabatically; clouds and precipitation may result.
  • 15. Processes That Lift Air 18.2 Cloud Formation • A front is the boundary between two adjoining air masses having contrasting characteristics.  Frontal Wedging
  • 16. Orographic Lifting and Frontal Wedging
  • 17. Processes That Lift Air 18.2 Cloud Formation • Convergence is when air flows together and rises.  Convergence • Localized convective lifting occurs where unequal surface heating causes pockets of air to rise because of their buoyancy.  Localized Convective Lifting
  • 19. Stability 18.2 Cloud Formation • Stable air tends to remain in its original position, while unstable air tends to rise.  Density Differences • Air stability is determined by measuring the temperature of the atmosphere at various heights.  Stability Measurements • The rate of change of air temperature with height is called the environmental lapse rate.
  • 20. Stability 18.2 Cloud Formation • A temperature inversion occurs in a layer of limited depth in the atmosphere where the temperature increases rather than decreases with height.  Degrees of Stability • When stable air is forced above the Earth’s surface, the clouds that form are widespread and have little vertical thickness compared to their horizontal dimension.  Stability and Daily Weather
  • 21. Condensation 18.2 Cloud Formation  For any form of condensation to occur, the air must be saturated. • Generally, there must be a surface for water vapor to condense on.  Types of Surfaces • Condensation nuclei are tiny bits of particulate matter that serve as surfaces on which water vapor condenses when condensation occurs in the air.
  • 22. Types of Clouds 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  Clouds are classified on the basis of their form and height. • Cirrus (cirrus = curl of hair) are clouds that are high, white, and thin. • Cumulus (cumulus = a pile) are clouds that consist of rounded individual cloud masses. • Stratus (stratus = a layer) are clouds best described as sheets or layers that cover much or all of the sky.
  • 24. Types of Clouds 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  High Clouds • Cirrus clouds are high, white, and thin. • Cirrostratus clouds are flat layers of clouds. • Cirrocumulus clouds consist of fluffy masses.  Middle Clouds • Altostratus clouds create a uniform white to gray sheet covering the sky with the sun or moon visible as a bright spot. • Altocumulus clouds are composed of rounded masses that differ from cirrocumulus clouds in that altocumulus clouds are larger and denser.
  • 25. Types of Clouds 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  Low Clouds • Stratus clouds are best described as sheets or layers that cover much or all of the sky. • Nimbostratus clouds are the main precipitation makers. • Stratocumulus clouds have a scalloped bottom that appears as long parallel rolls or broken rounded patches.
  • 27. Types of Clouds 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  Clouds of Vertical Development • Some clouds do not fit into any one of the three height categories mentioned. Such clouds have their bases in the low height range but often extend upward into the middle or high altitudes.
  • 28. Fog 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  Fog is defined as a cloud with its base at or very near the ground. • As the air cools, it becomes denser and drains into low areas such as river valleys, where thick fog accumulations may occur.  Fog Caused by Cooling • When cool air moves over warm water, enough moisture may evaporate from the water surface to produce saturation.  Fog Caused by Evaporation
  • 29. How Precipitation Forms 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  For precipitation to form, cloud droplets must grow in volume by roughly one million times. • The Bergeron process is a theory that relates the formation of precipitation to supercooled clouds, freezing nuclei, and the different saturation levels of ice and liquid water.  Cold Cloud Precipitation
  • 31. How Precipitation Forms 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  Cold Cloud Precipitation • Supercooled water is the condition of water droplets that remain in the liquid state at temperatures well below 0o C. • Supersaturated air is the condition of air that is more concentrated than is normally possible under given temperature and pressure conditions.
  • 32. How Precipitation Forms 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  Warm Cloud Precipitation • The collision-coalescence process is a theory of raindrop formation in warm clouds (above 0o C) in which large cloud droplets collide and join together with smaller droplets to form a raindrop.
  • 33. Forms of Precipitation 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation  The type of precipitation that reaches Earth’s surface depends on the temperature profile in the lower few kilometers of the atmosphere. • In meteorology, the term rain means drops of water that fall from a cloud and have a diameter of at least 0.5 mm.  Rain and Snow • At very low temperatures (when the moisture content of air is low) light fluffy snow made up of individual six-sided ice crystals forms.
  • 34. Forms of Precipitation 18.3 Cloud Types and Precipitation • Sleet is the fall of clear-to-translucent ice.  Rain and Snow • Hail is produced in cumulonimbus clouds. • Hailstones begin as small ice pellets that grow by collecting supercooled water droplets as they fall through a cloud.

Editor's Notes

  1. Who is Stan Hatfield and Ken Pinzke
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