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
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
The layers of gas that surround the Earth are collectively referred to as the atmosphere. The atmosphere is subdivided into five layers: the troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. The outermost layer is the exosphere, and the innermost layer is the troposphere.Full Answer >
The four main gases in the atmosphere are nitrogen, oxygen, argon and carbon dioxide. However, two of these gases make up most of the atmosphere. They are nitrogen and oxygen, which between them account for over 99 percent of the atmosphere.Full Answer >
According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, wind exists because of the movement of air and the differences in air pressure within the atmosphere. When high-pressure air moves toward low-pressure air, the difference in pressure leads to a faster air current or stronger wind.Full Answer >
Clouds serve as reflectors of incoming solar radiation, also called insolation, which is the short-wave radiated energy from the sun that propagates through the Earth's atmosphere. However, the extent to which an individual cloud reflects insolation depends on its thickness, as thin clouds reflect less insolation than thick clouds.Full Answer >