Wednesday, July 24, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesday with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 7 - Precipitation}

This is the seventh part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwaterdischargesurface waterevaporation, and condensation.
Welcome back to Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle! The yellow bead on Frannie’s water cycle bracelet represents precipitation. Even though it’s a big word, we are all very familiar with many different kinds of precipitation like rain, hail, sleet, and snow!

Precipitation is water that falls from the sky. The tiny water droplets are big enough to form visible clouds but not yet big enough to fall. Precipitation happens when millions of cloud droplets collide together to form a single raindrop or through another process where ice crystals are rapidly formed into snow or hail.
One quick clarification, though: fog and mist are not types of precipitation. They are actually suspensions, which means that the water vapor has not condensed enough to precipitate.

Precipitation is not the only way water can move from the sky to the ground. Back when Frannie was investigating evaporation, she touched on the concept of sublimation, where solid forms of water can become vapor without ever entering the liquid phase.

Deposition, or desublimation, is the opposite of that. In sub-freezing air, water vapor can turn directly into ice. It’s very possible you’ve already seen this process in action. On very cold winter days, water vapor goes through process of deposition to become the frost, also known as hoarfrost, that you can see coating plant stems, spiderwebs, and wires.
Join Frannie next time as she finds out where all that water goes once its back on the ground!

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