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Snowfall and Rainfall - Essay Example

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This paper is being carried out to compare and contrast rain and snow which are both forms of water and are different in their physical structure as well as forms and precipitation processes. Although both forms of water, they have differences in their settling behavior as well…
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Snowfall and Rainfall
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Rainfall versus snowfall
Introduction
Rainfall and snowfall are both forms of precipitated water that settles on the ground. Although both rainfall and snowfall are equally associated with the cold and wet, there certainly are differences between them in terms of its formation and structure as well. Rainfall may be defined as falling drops of water that are greater than 0.02 in diameter, precipitated by the process of condensation and falling in an area steadily over a period of time. Snowfall, on the other hand may be defined as falling ice composed of complex hexagonal forms that are converted from water to ice directly by the process of deposition. Rainfall and snowfall may be differentiated based on the precipitation process, forms, temperature conditions and atmospheric limitations.
Precipitation of rain and snow
Rainfall is a form of liquid precipitation unlike other forms of precipitation such as snow, hail or frost. When water on the earth surface is heated above the melting point, it gets evaporated and rises in the air as vapor. On reaching higher altitudes of the atmosphere, the vapor begins to cool down, resulting in precipitation. When these droplets of vapor which are dispersed in the atmosphere combine and accumulate, becoming heavy enough to fall, they cause rain. In contrast to the precipitation of rainfall, snowfall occurs when the temperature is below freezing point. They take the form of crystalline structures that precipitate as snowflakes from the clouds. They can take different crystalline or granular forms and are usually soft in nature unless packed by external pressure. Snow crystals are formed from super cooled water droplets, that form an ice lattice around the water droplet, caused by very low temperatures.
Forms of rain and snow
Rain is the liquid form of H2O, while snow is a solidified form, which according to the definition, is a mineral of homogeneous form of natural origin having inorganic origin and definite chemical composition. Rain can take up forms that vary in the size of the water droplets or the pressure that accompanies it. The size of water droplets vary from 0.2 to 0.6, while the rate of water droplets can vary from 0.10 inch to 0.30 inch an hour which may be either light rain or heavy rain. (usatoday.com). Snowfall can be classified into forms on the basis of the crystal structure that it precipitates into or the rate of accumulation. Snow can be in the form of flakes, crystals, grains or pellets. Rain and snow can be differentiated in its forms mainly by the fact that rain is liquid precipitation and does not have a color, while snow, can gain some colors from the reflection and refraction of light, which causes it to look blue.
Temperature conditions and atmospheric limitations
Rain is formed in relatively warmer temperature conditions, where the water that condenses on reaching higher altitudes remains in the form of water, without turning to other forms. For rainfall, the moisture must be high and the pressure low. In the case of snowfall, the temperature requires to be low, almost at zero degree or below zero degree. The water that rises to the atmosphere gets condensed into ice crystals only when there is a lot of moisture present in the atmosphere at low temperatures. When the temperature of the ground is almost near freezing point, the snow settles on the ground else changes to dew before it reaches the ground.
Rain and snow which are both forms of water are different in their physical structure as well as forms and precipitation processes. Although both forms of water, they have differences in their settling behavior as well.
Reference
usatoday.com. Definitions of precipitation. retrieved March 31, 2010 from
http://www.usatoday.com/weather/wds8.htm Read More
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