How are raindrops formed?

How are raindrops formed?


The reason behind our existence and one of the most crucial elements all living beings need to survive, grow and stay hydrated. And the best part is, mother nature has provided it for us for free in the form of rain that falls from the sky through a process called the Water Cycle.

The Water Cycle explains how the Earth’s water is always in movement and is constantly changing states, from liquid to vapour to ice and back again.

Although the water cycle has been working for billions of years, and most of us aware of the fact that how crucial it is for the creation of rain clouds. However, when it comes to the formation of raindrops, there is more to it that meets the eye.

Raindrops are not always as crystal clear as they appear, somewhere inside of every raindrop is a tiny impurity consisting a touch of salt, a speck of soot, a grain of clay that’s crucial to the raindrop’s existence. Without these impurities there would be no rain.

Water requires a non-gaseous surface to make the transition from a vapour to a liquid through a process called condensation. That’s because when the water is in the form of vapour every molecule moves so fast in random directions that they find it difficult to align perfectly to form bonds and transform into liquid.

So, when the microscopic dirt particles like dust on the Earth’s surface get blown high into the atmosphere and bump into these zig-zagging molecules, the vapour molecules find it much easier to condense around the particles called Cloud Condensation Nuclei.

So basically, it means to form a cloud with lots of raindrops, we need lots of these nuclei. And fortunately, we have gazillions of these particles floating in the atmosphere in the form of soot, dust and pollen, mushroom spores, and even bacteria with a name Pseudomonas Syringae.

Some experts believe that these bacteria have evolved into perfect Cloud Condensation Nuclei to form a raindrop around them to help the droplets drop down on the ground.

And, here is a thing, raindrops don’t look like teardrops. Although, they have been artistically presented in drop like shape for ages, however the common raindrops is actually shaped more like a hamburger bun.

In fact, the smallest droplets start as spheres. But on the way down, these tiny drops bump into each other to form a bigger sphere. And as these larger drops have more surface for air to collide with, they get flat from the bottom. And once they reach around the size of 5 - 6 millimeters, they transform from bun shaped to parachute shaped, just to get bigger and bigger until it bursts apart into smaller drops. And this way the raindrop falls down on the ground.

Did you know, not all raindrops are made up of water? Rain also consists of sulphuric acid or methane, which can also be found on other planets in the solar system.

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