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Precipitation occurs when warm air pushes water vapor high into the atmosphere. When it cools, the vapor condenses into water droplets that can stay liquid or freeze into hail or snowflakes. If enough condensation collects to saturate the air, it will fall back to earth as precipitation.
See the fact file below for more information on the precipitation or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Precipitation worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
WHAT CAUSES PRECIPITATION?
- Precipitation is one of the three processes involved in the water cycle. It is when any liquid or solidified water that forms in the sky falls back to the ground.
- When liquid from bodies of water like oceans, lakes, rivers, and seas is heated up by the sun, it evaporates and becomes water vapor.
- The troposphere is the part of the atmosphere closest to the surface of the earth. It gets very cold in the troposphere, 68°F to -72°F (20°C to -58°C). This is where water vapor undergoes condensation and turns from vapor into trillions of droplets that form clouds.
- The tiny water droplets join together and become bigger until they’re too heavy to stay in the air. If they remain liquid, they fall to the ground as rain. If they freeze, it can be hail or snow.
- Hailstones are formed when rising warm air, called an updraught, pushes water droplets high into the atmosphere where they freeze. As they fall back through the cloud, more water droplets attach to it and also freezes, making the stone larger.
- Temperature and bodies of water are critical for precipitation to occur. If it is hot but there is no water to evaporate, there is no rain – which is why deserts are so dry. Where there is both water and warm temperatures, there is an intense water cycle.
- Condensation occurs with a condensation nucleus. This is a tiny particle of dust or smoke in the atmosphere, which allows water vapor to collect on until a water droplet forms.
- Condensation nuclei are very small. Also known as cloud seeds, they’re 0.2 µm (micrometers) or 1/100th of a raindrop.
FACTORS AFFECTING PRECIPITATION
- There are many factors affecting precipitation. Some are latitude, altitude, humidity, wind, and mountains.
- Prevailing winds affect precipitation especially when it comes from oceans or lakes because it carries more water vapor on to the land.
- Altitude affects the amount of precipitation as the temperature will influence condensation.
- Humidity is the amount of water vapour in the air. Without it, there can be no condensation.
- Latitude influences the amount of precipitation because the further away from the equator you get, the lower the air temperature gets, therefore, less evaporation can take place.
- Finally, barriers like mountains can affect precipitation. Water vapor coming from the ocean will condense as it gets pushed higher into the atmosphere by the mountain. Some mountains are very high, however, and clouds will condense and release rainfall before they can get over the peak of the mountain. The leeward side of a mountain that gets no rainfall is called a rain shadow and is often arid.
TYPES OF PRECIPITATION
- All forms of precipitation start in the same way of evaporation and condensation. They don’t all end the same, though. There four main forms of precipitation called rain, snow, sleet and hail.
- Rainfall and drizzle are the only types of precipitation that deliver water into liquid form.
- Millions of water droplets are needed to produce a single drop of rain.
- The rain is snow that is in higher clouds, which turns into the water as it pass through warmer air.
- Snow is the precipitation of water in solid form. When the temperature in the atmosphere is not enough to melt the ice crystals in the sky, snowfall occurs.
- Sleet is partially melted snow; it is a combination of rain and snow pellets. It occurs when the snow melts in warm air and freezes again in cold layers of the atmosphere.
- Hail is a solid form of precipitation that develops from powerful thunderstorms. These are ice pellets or frozen rain that circles the clouds due to powerful updrafts. Hail grows bigger due to additional moisture they pick along as they fall.
- Some pollutants can contaminate water droplets resulting in Acid Rain. It can make lakes and streams more acidic. It also harms plants and animals living in water that cannot adapt to acidity.
IMPORTANCE OF PRECIPITATION
- Precipitation is important because it provides the delivery of atmospheric water to Earth. Without precipitation, all the land on earth would be dry as the desert.
- It is an important part of the water cycle which ensures the availability of water for all living organisms and helps maintain order in weather patterns.
- It provides freshwater and helps in human activities, industry, and agriculture that requires water.
- Precipitation can also cause harm. Too much rain or snow can cause flooding and accidents.
- Hail and sleet can also damage plants, trees, crops, power lines, and houses.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the precipitation across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Precipitation worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the precipitation which occurs when warm air pushes water vapor high into the atmosphere. When it cools, the vapor condenses into water droplets that can stay liquid or freeze into hail or snowflakes. If enough condensation collects to saturate the air, it will fall back to earth as precipitation.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Precipitation Facts
- Fill in the Clouds
- The Water Cycle
- Name the Cloud
- Precipitation Factors
- Rain or Shine
- Cold Match
- How Important?
- Words of the Day
- News Flash
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Link will appear as Precipitation Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 9, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.