This image shows drizzle falling from a stratocumulus cloud over the ocean.
Click on image for full size
Image Courtesy of Kimberly Comstock/University of Washington
Drizzle is light precipitation that is made up of liquid water drops that are smaller than rain drops. Drizzle can be so light that only a millimeter of water falls to the Earth's surface in one day. It is produced by stratocumulus or stratus clouds.
The water drops that make up drizzle are small (a drop of drizzle has the same thickness as human hair) and because of their small size much of the drizzle evaporates before falling to the ground. Drizzle lowers visibility so it is harder to see objects in the distance when it is drizzling than on a clear day.
Drizzle commonly occurs over the ocean, where it has an effect on the thickness of clouds. It also influences how much those clouds reflect sunlight away from the surface of the Earth.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
The Fall 2009 issue of The Earth Scientist
, which includes articles on student research into building design for earthquakes and a classroom lab on the composition of the Earth’s ancient atmosphere, is available in our online store
You might also be interested in:
Rain is precipitation that falls to the Earth in drops of 5mm or more in diameter according to the US National Weather Service. Virga is rain that evaporates before reaching the ground. Raindrops form...more
Stratocumulus clouds belong to the Low Cloud (surface-2000m) group. These clouds are low, lumpy, and gray. These clouds can look like cells under a microscope - sometimes they line up in rows and other...more
Stratus clouds belong to the Low Cloud (surface-2000m up) group. They are uniform gray in color and can cover most or all of the sky. Stratus clouds can look like a fog that doesn't reach the ground....more
One process which transfers water from the ground back to the atmosphere is evaporation. Evaporation is when water passes from a liquid phase to a gas phase. Rates of evaporation of water depend on things...more
Stratocumulus clouds are commonly found over the ocean in the Southeast Pacific region. These clouds can contain clear areas in the clouds that scientists call "pockets of open cells," or POCs....more
The weather in the Southeast Pacific region can be considered extreme, in the sense that it receives very little rainfall and is extremely dry. For example, some places in the Atacama Desert in Chile receive...more
The Southeast Pacific region contains the world's most extensive sheet of stratocumulus clouds. These clouds extend for almost 2,000 kilometers (1,243 miles) off the west coast of South America from central...more