Q:

What are types of rainfall?

A:

Quick Answer

Moisture precipitates out of the atmosphere primarily as three types of rain: convective, stratiform and orographic. In each case, warm, moist air is lifted up and suspended until it reaches saturation and then discharges its water content as rain.

Know More
What are types of rainfall?
Credit: Danielle Scott CC-BY-SA 2.0

Full Answer

Convective rain is the simplest form, and it occurs mainly in tropical regions. In a convection system, water evaporates off of ocean and lake surfaces, rises through the air by simple convection and falls when the air is saturated. Convective fronts are usually localized and limited in their horizontal extent.

Stratiform rain results when a moist warm front encounters cooler, drier air. The cool air is denser than the warm front, so it subducts under the warm air and drives it to a higher altitude. Then, if conditions are right for precipitation, the warm mass discharges.

Orographic rain is driven by a process very similar to stratiform rain, but with the rain-laden clouds rising against mountains rather than sliding over cool air. A typical orographic rain begins over the ocean as a convection cell, moves toward land and is suddenly lifted high by a coastal range of mountains. Orographic systems usually drop their moisture soon after making landfall and rarely have the energy to penetrate deep inland. This deprives inland areas of rain and creates rain shadow deserts such as the Atacama.

Learn more about Atmosphere

Related Questions

  • Q:

    How does nitrogen return to the atmosphere?

    A:

    Nitrogen compounds in the soil are broken down by Pseudomonas bacteria through a process called denitrification, thereby returning nitrogen in its original form to the atmosphere. The weathering of rocks by wind, rain and friction also releases the free nitrogen present within them into the air.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What are the characteristics of the exosphere?

    A:

    Since the exosphere is the topmost layer of Earth's atmosphere, the air in it is very thin as it slowly fades into outer space. The air in the exosphere has multiple similarities to the vacuum of space, and it is generally characterized by the existence of light atmospheric gases like helium and hydrogen alongside trace amounts of atomic oxygen and carbon dioxide.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How is ozone formed?

    A:

    Ozone is formed naturally when oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere is exposed to strong concentrations of ultraviolet light. It also forms artificially when nitrogen and oxygen emissions from internal combustion engines are exposed to sunlight.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the ozone layer made of?

    A:

    The ozone layer, which is part of the stratosphere, is comprised of the major atmospheric gases nitrogen, oxygen and argon, but also contains a significantly higher concentration of the trace gas ozone than the other layers of the atmosphere. The other trace gases include carbon dioxide, neon, helium, methane and the manmade chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs. The CFCs reaching the stratosphere from the Earth's surface have become a cause for global concern because of the role they play in the chemical reaction that removes ozone from the atmosphere.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore