Science Question Regarding Condensation

Clouds are condensed water vapor. The bottom of cumulus clouds are

fairly flat. If the sea level temperature is 31 degrees Celsius and

the dew point is 11 degrees Celsius, show why the bottom of a cloud

would form at 2500 meters above sea level and explain why the bottom

of the cloud would appear flat.



One thought on “Science Question Regarding Condensation

  1. Hi –

    Water will condense out of the air to form a cloud at the dew-point of

    the water – so at 11 degrees in this case, 20 degrees colder than the

    surface. Dry air cools at the dry adiabatic rate of 10 degrees/1000

    meters – however, the dew point also decreases at a rate of around 2

    degrees/ 1000 meters – thus the rate of convergence of dew point and

    air parcel temperature can be approximated at 8 degrees/1000 meters –

    or 2500 meters in this case. As the air cools at a relatively

    constant rate, the dew point temperature will be reached for all of

    the air forming the cload at approximately the same height, leading to

    a flat bottom for the cloud.

    A nice powerpoint presentation explaining cloud formation (takes a

    while to load though)

    file:///E:/Documents%20and%20Settings/dan/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.IE5/43X3MQNT/297,26,Lenticular

    clouds

    A review page from a meterology course explaining some of these

    concepts:

    http://www.atmo.arizona.edu/students/courselinks/spring00/atmo171-flittner/q6_review.html

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