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Drizzle is a light liquid precipitation consisting of liquid water drops smaller than those of rain – generally smaller than 0.5 mm (0.02 in) in diameter. Drizzle is normally produced by low stratiform clouds and stratocumulus clouds. Precipitation rates from drizzle are on the order of a millimetre (0.04 in) per day or less at the ground. Owing to the small size of drizzle drops, under many circumstances drizzle largely evaporates before reaching the surface and so may be undetected by observers on the ground. The METAR code for drizzle is DZ and for freezing drizzle is FZDZ.
Water is a transparent, tasteless, odorless, and nearly colorless chemical substance, which is the main constituent of Earth's streams, lakes, and oceans, and the fluids of most living organisms. It is vital for all known forms of life, even though it provides no calories or organic nutrients. Its chemical formula is H2O, meaning that each of its molecules contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms, connected by covalent bonds. Water is the name of the liquid state of H2O at standard ambient temperature and pressure. It forms precipitation in the form of rain and aerosols in the form of fog. Clouds are formed from suspended droplets of water and ice, its solid state. When finely divided, crystalline ice may precipitate in the form of snow. The gaseous state of water is steam or water vapor. Water moves continually through the water cycle of evaporation, transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea.
Rain is liquid water in the form of droplets that have condensed from atmospheric water vapor and then become heavy enough to fall under gravity. Rain is a major component of the water cycle and is responsible for depositing most of the fresh water on the Earth. It provides suitable conditions for many types of ecosystems, as well as water for hydroelectric power plants and crop irrigation.
Stratus clouds are low-level clouds characterized by horizontal layering with a uniform base, as opposed to convective or cumuliform clouds that are formed by rising thermals. More specifically, the term stratus is used to describe flat, hazy, featureless clouds of low altitude varying in color from dark gray to nearly white. The word "stratus" comes from the Latin prefix "strato-", meaning "layer". Stratus clouds may produce a light drizzle or a small amount of snow. These clouds are essentially above-ground fog formed either through the lifting of morning fog or through cold air moving at low altitudes over a region. Some call these clouds "high fog" for the fog-like cloud. While light rain may fall, this cloud does not indicate much meteorological activity.
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While most drizzle has only a minor immediate impact upon humans, freezing drizzle can lead to treacherous conditions. Freezing drizzle occurs when supercooled drizzle drops land on a surface whose temperature is below freezing.These drops immediately freeze upon impact, leading to the buildup of sheet ice (sometimes called black ice) on the surface of roads.
Freezing drizzle is drizzle that freezes on contact with the ground or an object at or near the surface. Its METAR code is FZDZ.
Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface, especially on roads. The ice itself is not black, but visually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or people stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of slippage and subsequent accident due to the unexpected loss of traction.
Drizzle tends to be the most frequent form of precipitation over large areas of the world's oceans, particularly in the colder regions of the subtropics. These regions are dominated by shallow marine stratocumulus and trade wind cumulus clouds, which exist entirely within the marine boundary layer. Despite the low rates of surface accumulation, it has become apparent[ to whom? ] that drizzle exerts a major influence over the structure, coverage, and radiative properties of clouds in these regions.
The subtropics are geographic and climate zones located roughly between the tropics at latitude 23.5° and temperate zones north and south of the Equator.
A stratocumulus cloud belongs to a genus-type of clouds characterized by large dark, rounded masses, usually in groups, lines, or waves, the individual elements being larger than those in altocumulus, and the whole being at a lower height, usually below 2,000 metres (6,600 ft). Weak convective currents create shallow cloud layers because of drier, stable air above preventing continued vertical development.
Cumulus clouds are clouds which have flat bases and are often described as "puffy", "cotton-like" or "fluffy" in appearance. Their name derives from the Latin cumulo-, meaning heap or pile. Cumulus clouds are low-level clouds, generally less than 2,000 m (6,600 ft) in altitude unless they are the more vertical cumulus congestus form. Cumulus clouds may appear by themselves, in lines, or in clusters.
This has motivated scientists to design more sophisticated, sensitive instruments such as high-frequency radars that can detect drizzle. These studies have shown that the quantity of drizzle is strongly linked to cloud morphology and tends to be associated with updrafts within the marine boundary layer. Increased amounts of drizzle tend to be found in marine clouds that form in clean air masses that have low concentrations of cloud droplets. This interconnection between clouds and drizzle can be explored using high-resolution numerical modelling such as large eddy simulation.
Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves in the radio or microwaves domain, a transmitting antenna, a receiving antenna and a receiver and processor to determine properties of the object(s). Radio waves from the transmitter reflect off the object and return to the receiver, giving information about the object's location and speed.
Large eddy simulation (LES) is a mathematical model for turbulence used in computational fluid dynamics. It was initially proposed in 1963 by Joseph Smagorinsky to simulate atmospheric air currents, and first explored by Deardorff (1970). LES is currently applied in a wide variety of engineering applications, including combustion, acoustics, and simulations of the atmospheric boundary layer.
It has been hypothesized[ by whom? ] that particulates in the atmosphere caused by human activities may suppress drizzle. According to this hypothesis, because drizzle can be an effective means of removing moisture from a cloud, its suppression could help to increase the thickness, coverage, and longevity of marine stratocumulus clouds. This would lead to increased cloud albedo on a regional to global scale, and a cooling effect on the atmosphere. Estimates using complex global climate models suggest that this effect may be partially masking the effects of greenhouse gas increases on global surface temperature. However, it is not clear that the representation of the chemical and physical processes needed to accurately simulate the interaction between aerosols, clouds, and drizzle in our current climate models is sufficient to fully understand the global impacts of changes in particulates.
Atmospheric aerosol particles – also known as atmospheric particulate matter, particulate matter (PM), particulates, or suspended particulate matter (SPM) – are microscopic solid or liquid matter suspended in the atmosphere of Earth. The term aerosol commonly refers to the particulate/air mixture, as opposed to the particulate matter alone. Sources of particulate matter can be natural or anthropogenic. They have impacts on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health.
Albedo is the measure of the diffuse reflection of solar radiation out of the total solar radiation received by an astronomical body. It is dimensionless and measured on a scale from 0 to 1.
Climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the important drivers of climate, including atmosphere, oceans, land surface and ice. They are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the climate system to projections of future climate.
Cirrus is a genus of atmospheric cloud generally characterized by thin, wispy strands, giving the type its name from the Latin word cirrus, meaning a ringlet or curling lock of hair. This cloud can form at any altitude between 16,500 ft and 45,000 ft above sea level. The strands of cloud sometimes appear in tufts of a distinctive form referred to by the common name of "mares' tails".
In meteorology, a cloud is an aerosol consisting of a visible mass of minute liquid droplets, frozen crystals, or other particles suspended in the atmosphere of a planetary body or similar space. Water or various other chemicals may compose the droplets and crystals. On Earth, clouds are formed as a result of saturation of the air when it is cooled to its dew point, or when it gains sufficient moisture from an adjacent source to raise the dew point to the ambient temperature. They are seen in the Earth's homosphere. Nephology is the science of clouds, which is undertaken in the cloud physics branch of meteorology.
Fog is a visible aerosol consisting of tiny water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface. Fog can be considered a type of low-lying cloud, usually resembling stratus, and is heavily influenced by nearby bodies of water, topography, and wind conditions. In turn, fog has affected many human activities, such as shipping, travel, and warfare.
Freezing rain is the name given to rain maintained at temperatures below freezing by the ambient air mass that causes freezing on contact with surfaces. Unlike a mixture of rain and snow, ice pellets, or hail, freezing rain is made entirely of liquid droplets. The raindrops become supercooled while passing through a sub-freezing layer of air hundreds of meters above the ground, and then freeze upon impact with any surface they encounter, including the ground, trees, electrical wires, aircraft, and automobiles. The resulting ice, called glaze ice, can accumulate to a thickness of several centimeters and cover all exposed surfaces. The METAR code for freezing rain is FZRA.
In meteorology, precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation include drizzle, rain, sleet, snow, graupel and hail. Precipitation occurs when a portion of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapor, so that the water condenses and "precipitates". Thus, fog and mist are not precipitation but suspensions, because the water vapor does not condense sufficiently to precipitate. Two processes, possibly acting together, can lead to air becoming saturated: cooling the air or adding water vapor to the air. Precipitation forms as smaller droplets coalesce via collision with other rain drops or ice crystals within a cloud. Short, intense periods of rain in scattered locations are called "showers."
Cloud condensation nuclei or CCNs are small particles typically 0.2 µm, or 1/100th the size of a cloud droplet on which water vapor condenses. Water requires a non-gaseous surface to make the transition from a vapour to a liquid; this process is called condensation. In the atmosphere, this surface presents itself as tiny solid or liquid particles called CCNs. When no CCNs are present, water vapour can be supercooled at about −13°C (8°F) for 5–6 hours before droplets spontaneously form. In above freezing temperatures the air would have to be supersaturated to around 400% before the droplets could form.
Cloud physics is the study of the physical processes that lead to the formation, growth and precipitation of atmospheric clouds. These aerosols are found in the troposphere, stratosphere, and mesosphere, which collectively make up the greatest part of the homosphere. Clouds consist of microscopic droplets of liquid water, tiny crystals of ice, or both. Cloud droplets initially form by the condensation of water vapor onto condensation nuclei when the supersaturation of air exceeds a critical value according to Köhler theory. Cloud condensation nuclei are necessary for cloud droplets formation because of the Kelvin effect, which describes the change in saturation vapor pressure due to a curved surface. At small radii, the amount of supersaturation needed for condensation to occur is so large, that it does not happen naturally. Raoult's law describes how the vapor pressure is dependent on the amount of solute in a solution. At high concentrations, when the cloud droplets are small, the supersaturation required is smaller than without the presence of a nucleus.
June Gloom is a Southern California term for a weather pattern that results in cloudy, overcast skies with cool temperatures during the late spring and early summer. While it is most common in the month of June, it can occur in surrounding months, giving rise to other colloquialisms, such as "May Gray", "No Sky July", and, rarely, "Fogust". Low-altitude stratus clouds form over the cool water of the California Current, and spread overnight into the coastal regions of Southern California. The overcast skies often are accompanied by fog and drizzle, though usually not rain. June Gloom usually clears up between mid-morning and early afternoon, depending on the strength of the marine layer, and gives way to sunny skies. On a strong June Gloom day, the clouds and fog may extend inland to the valleys and Inland Empire and may persist into the mid-afternoon or evening.
The Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Climate Research Facility is a United States Department of Energy scientific user facility for the study of global climate change by the national and international research community.
Ship tracks are clouds that form around the exhaust released by ships into the still ocean air. Water molecules collect around the tiny particles (aerosols) from exhaust to form a cloud seed. More and more water accumulates on the seed until a visible cloud is formed. In the case of ship tracks, the cloud seeds are stretched over a long narrow path where the wind has blown the ship's exhaust, so the resulting clouds resemble long strings over the ocean. Ship tracks are a type of homogenitus cloud.
In meteorology, the various types of precipitation often include the character or phase of the precipitation which is falling to ground level. There are three distinct ways that precipitation can occur. Convective precipitation is generally more intense, and of shorter duration, than stratiform precipitation. Orographic precipitation occurs when moist air is forced upwards over rising terrain, such as a mountain.
The sea surface microlayer (SML) is the top 1000 micrometers of the ocean surface. It is the boundary layer where all exchange occurs between the atmosphere and the ocean. The chemical, physical, and biological properties of the SML differ greatly from the sub-surface water just a few centimeters beneath.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to meteorology:
The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) is a research program of the World Climate Research Programme intended to observe, comprehend and model the Earth's water cycle. The experiment also observes how much energy the Earth receives, studies how much of that energy reaches surfaces of the Earth and how that energy is transformed. Sunlight's energy evaporates water to produce clouds and rain, and dries out land masses after rain. Rain that falls on land becomes the water budget which can be used by people for agricultural and other processes.
Tropical convective clouds play an important part in the Earth's climate system. Convection and release of latent heat transports energy from the surface into the upper atmosphere. Clouds have a higher albedo than the underlying ocean, which causes more incoming solar radiation to be reflected back to space. Since the tops of tropical systems are much cooler than the surface of the Earth, the presence of high convective clouds cools the climate system.
Remote sensing of the planetary boundary layer refers to the utilization of ground-based, flight-based, or satellite-based remote sensing instruments to measure properties of the planetary boundary layer including boundary layer height, aerosols and clouds. Satellite remote sensing of the atmosphere has the advantage of being able to provide global coverage of atmospheric planetary boundary layer properties while simultaneously providing relatively high temporal sampling rates. Advancements in satellite remote sensing have provided greater vertical resolution which enables higher accuracy for planetary boundary layer measurements.
This glossary of meteorology is a list of terms and concepts relevant to meteorology and the atmospheric sciences, their sub-disciplines, and related fields.
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