Raindrops are shaped like tears, right? After all, that’s how they’re shown in cartoons, advertisements, and children’s books. But what does science say? What shape is a raindrop really?
- Water dripping from a faucet might be tear-shaped, but raindrops definitely aren’t. Here’s why. When a small raindrop falls from the clouds, it’s round like a ball. The raindrop’s surface creates a sort of skin, like a rubber ball. As the raindrop falls, it generally stays round.
- Larger raindrops start out as a ball. As they fall through the air, though, the air below them pushes up on them – sort of like when you’re riding your bike and the air pushes your hair back from your face. The air pressure causes the raindrop to flatten out like the top portion of a hamburger bun. In some cases, the air pressure can even cause a dent in the bottom part of the raindrop. Then the raindrop looks more like a kidney bean.
- Rain has a smell, which is called From the Greek, it means “stone” and “blood of the Gods.” But rain’s smell doesn’t really have anything to do with rocks or blood or gods. The smell is caused by aromatic plant oils along with soil bacteria.
- Rain often starts high in the clouds as snow.
- Antarctica is the driest place on earth, getting only 6.5 inches of rain or snow annually. Columbia gets more than 530 inches of rain each year, making it the wettest place on earth.
- On other planets, rain isn’t made of water. On Venus, for example, it’s made of methane. Yikes!
Questions and Answers
Question: How do raindrops form?
Answer: According to researchers at the University of Idaho, raindrops start out as water vapor in clouds. Along with the water vapor is condensation nuclei. This is a fancy word for tiny bits of salt, sand, or dirt that is floating around in the clouds. The water vapor gloms onto and surrounds the condensation nuclei, creating a droplet.
If one droplet bumps into another droplet, the two merge, creating a larger drop – similar to when you roll a snowball on the ground and the ball gets larger as it adds more snow. Sometimes the drop gets so big that it breaks into more droplets. As it becomes heavier, it falls to the ground.
Watch a video to learn more about raindrops.
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Declan, Tobin. " Are raindrops really tear-shaped? ." Easy Science for Kids, Jan 2020. Web. 29 Jan 2020. < https://easyscienceforkids.com/raindrops/ >.
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Tobin, Declan. (2020). Are raindrops really tear-shaped?. Easy Science for Kids. Retrieved from https://easyscienceforkids.com/raindrops/
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