Precipitation is defined as any product of atmospheric water vapour condensation that falls under the gravitational attraction of clouds. The most common types of precipitation are drizzling, rainfall, frost, snow, cumulonimbus clouds, and hailstorm. If the temperature in a cloud is cooler, as it would be at higher elevations, the raindrops may freeze and create snow. The majority of rain starts as snow in the clouds melts into raindrops as it passes through warmer air. Let us dive in deeper and learn more about the effects of less rainfall and its impact on humanity, how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water, and many more.
1. What do you mean by Precipitation?
- Precipitation is any type of weather condition in which anything falls from the sky towards the ground or returns to the Earth in various forms, such as rainfall, snowfall, frost, or hailstorm. So, rains are water droplets that fall to the Earth’s surface as precipitation.
- It forms in the clouds as microscopic water vapour in the atmosphere, when dust particles or pollution molecules, condense into larger and larger droplets of water. When the raindrops become too heavy, they fall to the ground.
- Precipitation, like evaporation and condensation, is one of the three major components of the global water cycle.
- The three most frequent precipitation kinds are snow, hail, and rain.
- Dust particles or smoke in the atmosphere are necessary for precipitation because these particles, known as condensation nuclei, include a space for water molecules to condense. This causes water droplets to gather and continue growing enough to fall on the surface of the earth.
2. What Affects Water Availability?
The following factor affects water availability which are:
- Climate: Water shortages are caused by low rainfall and high temperatures, as low rainfall leads to less water availability. High temperatures cause water to evaporate, lowering the amount available for use, but water surpluses are common in locations with abundant rainfall and low temperatures.
- Geology: Rainfall runs off the rocks and seeps in beneath the surface because some of these rocks are porous and allow water to pass through. Porous rock may cause less surface water. Aquifers, on the other hand, are water storage regions formed by porous rocks. Other rocks are impermeable, which means they cannot keep water; however, certain rocks can retain water inside the layers above.
- Contamination: Although water is abundant in some regions, using it is now harmful and unfit due to contamination. Problems arise from untreated sewage and industrial wastewater.
- Limited infrastructure: Pipes are required to safely transport water from one location to another. Leaks and pollution are reduced when pipes are sealed as they aren’t present in all locations. Because they must be placed underground, their installation might even be costly.
- Poverty: Nearly one billion Africans do not have access to safe drinking water. This traps them in a vicious cycle of poverty: they can’t afford water, resulting in them becoming sick, and when they fall sick, people can’t work and earn money.
3. What is the Importance of Precipitation?
The importance of precipitation is as follows:
- It is an important component of the Earth’s water cycle. As a result, it is essential for preserving natural balance.
- It is a significant source of pure water on the planet.
- Precipitation, such as rainfall, and its distribution, is a key component of the climate.
- It’s essential for controlling the circulation of heat, which is a form of global energy flow.
4. What Factors affect Precipitation?
Prevailing winds, the existence of mountain ranges, and seasonal wind patterns are the three main elements that influence precipitation. A mountain range is a group of mountains linked together by high terrain. The location of precipitation can be determined by a mountain range along the route of prevailing winds. Other factors that affect precipitation are:
- Atmospheric currents
- Global and mesoscale sea waves
- Moisture proximity
- Relative continental position
- Presence of orographic boundaries
- Terrain conditions depending on texture, colour, moisture content
- Airborne particles- both natural and man-made.
5. How does Precipitation affect Weather?
Precipitation is very essential in maintaining normal weather conditions in any area, as it involves the circulation of water within the atmosphere. It helps in creating drizzles which help in providing water to some areas and avoiding excessive drying of certain areas. In the next segment, you will see how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water. (Also read What is the Opposite Word of Rainy Season?)
6. How can Reduced Precipitation lead to Limited Water?
Precipitation is elementary to water circulation in any region as it helps in bringing drizzle and rain which help restore the water resources of a region. So, how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water? Well, due to reduced precipitation, less water is made available through the rain as a result people start using their reserve water sources which leads to the depletion of reserves causing a shortage of water in the area. When this becomes a chronic problem it may also lead to situations like drought affecting the living beings of that particular region. (See read What are the Benefits of Rain?)
7. What causes Decreased Precipitation?
Since you are aware of how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water, take a look at the following factors causing decreased precipitation:
- Natural factors: Natural droughts have affected humanity at various times throughout our history.
- Changes in weather patterns: Since air movement patterns are changed when surface temperatures are abnormal, especially over the sea, the way air moves through the atmosphere can affect how precipitation is distributed around the globe.
- Excessive water use: The excessive use of water can however lead to drought which is an imbalance in water supply and demand. More water is needed to support both agriculture and the human race as the world’s population continues to grow and intensive farming methods are used.
- Soil deterioration and deforestation: For clouds to develop and rain to fall, which returns the water to the earth, trees and plants must release moisture into the sky. However, the human species is the most proficient at destroying natural resources which results in the loss of natural resources.
- Due to global warming: As the name implies, the world is warming at an alarming rate, which could lead to the effects of less rainfall and cause droughts. Human activity, such as the emission of greenhouse gases, is mostly to blame for global warming since these gases trap heat and cause temperatures to rise.
- Global climate change: Rising temperatures cause moist areas to get wetter and dry areas to become dryer. Warm air absorbs more water, resulting in greater rain events in wetter locations, whereas warmer temperatures cause water to evaporate more quickly in arid places.
8. What are the Effects of Less Rainfall?
Besides wondering how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water, note that a decreased precipitation can result in a range of issues, including crop loss, a lack of water supply, long-term public health issues, and poor drinking water quality. It shows its overall impacts on food and nutrition, hygiene and sanitation conditions, and air quality. These consequences may trigger severe economic and social calamities, such as starvation, forced migration from drought-affected areas, and fighting over scarce resources. (See How are Cactus Adapted to Survive in a Desert?)
9. Where does Water go when there is a Drought?
You already read how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water, additionally you must know that water is evaporated from the soil as a result of evaporation from either the surface of the soil or the transpiration from the plant’s leaves and stems. Evapotranspiration is the result of the interaction of these two variables.
Water is also lost as it seeps through all the soil well beyond plant roots’ reach. The water constantly refreshed the groundwater beneath the grasslands and more water might be retained by the soil. About 90% of precipitation is believed to be sent back into the sky, not flowing into rivers or groundwater, even under typical meteorological conditions. The researchers have collaborated with the forestry and agriculture sectors to put their findings into action about water. (See What is the Water Cycle in Order?)
10. How does Drought affect Water Supply?
Drought affects water availability as higher temperatures increase water demand for agricultural irrigation as well as drinking water resources. Effects of less rainfall, include water supply issues, shortages, and deterioration of quality, saltwater infiltration in groundwater bodies, steadily increasing pollution of receiving lakes and rivers, and declines in groundwater levels.
A popular myth is that raindrops fall in the shape of a teardrop. Smaller raindrops are nearly totally spherical, while larger raindrops are round with a tiny bump on the bottom side. When they fall to the ground, they resemble kidney beans whereas large raindrops have a large depression and resemble a parachute. By the end, you must be aware of how can reduced precipitation lead to limited water and its adverse effects on the environment. (Also read How does Deforestation lead to Frequent Floods and Droughts?)