What is Precipitation and What Are Its Types?

Precipitation is the phase of the hydrological cycle that consists of the falling water from the atmosphere to the surface land.

Precipitation occurs as a consequence of condensation, that is, by the accumulation of water vapor in the atmosphere that favors the formation of clouds.

When clouds accumulate a lot of water vapor, the weight of the drops causes the water to fall towards the surface.

This phenomenon is also known as atmospheric precipitation or pluvial precipitation.

Water cycle: precipitation

Precipitation takes place after condensation. The water falls to the surface to go to the next phase of the cycle.

types of precipitation

Depending on the atmospheric temperature, the water that falls during the precipitation phase can reach the surface in a liquid or solid state.

Liquid precipitation: drizzle and rain

Left: Image of light drizzle or rain. Right: image of rain.

Liquid precipitation, called rainy In general, they vary depending on the size of the drops and the intensity with which they fall.

They can be presented, for example, in the form of drizzlewhich is a type of rain made up of small drops that fall moderately.

The showersshowers or downpours, on the other hand, are rains of strong intensity and short duration.

Solid precipitation: hail and snow

Left: traces of hail on the ground. Right: snow falling on a previously snow-covered forest.

Solid precipitation can occur in the form of hailballs of frozen water that can have different sizes, or of snowsmall crystals or flakes of frozen water.

This occurs when the temperature approaches zero degrees Celsius, causing the water to change its state, from liquid to solid, in the process called solidification.

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Why is precipitation studied?

Precipitation is the object of study of meteorology because it is an important factor in the observation of climate and atmospheric phenomena.

Its measurement allows establishing the periods of duration of the rains and recording the amount of water that reaches the surface.

The unit used to measure precipitation is the millimeter (mm) and one millimeter equals one liter per square meter Of surface (l/m2).

These values ​​express the volume of precipitation that has fallen on a certain area during a specific period.

The devices used to carry out the measurement of rainfall are the pluviometer and the pluviograph.

The pluviometer It is a device that collects and measures rainfall. It consists of a cylinder with an opening through which water enters, which slides through a funnel to a graduated container where it accumulates.

The pluviograph measures the intensity of rainfall, revealing the amount of water that has fallen per square meter over a period of time. Its collection system is similar to the rain gauge, but the rain gauge makes a graphical representation of the collected data.

See also:

  • Water cycle
  • Condensation
  • Solidification