Condensation meaning definition and explanation




Condensation meaning definition and explanation


The following texts are the property of their respective authors and we thank them for giving us the opportunity to share for free to students, teachers and users of the Web their texts will used only for illustrative educational and scientific purposes only.


All the information in our site are given for nonprofit educational purposes

The information of medicine and health contained in the site are of a general nature and purpose which is purely informative and for this reason may not replace in any case, the council of a doctor or a qualified entity legally to the profession.



Condensation meaning definition and explanation




This is the process by which water vapour in the atmosphere is converted into a liquid or, if the temperature is below 0 degrees Celsius, a solid. This process occurs when air is cooled until it is saturated. This cooling which causes condensation can occur in the following ways:


  1. Cooling by radiation: The ground loses heat rapidly through terrestrial radiation and the air in contact with it is then cooled by conduction. If the air is moist, some vapour will condense to form radiation fog or dew. If the temperature is below freezing point hoar frost is produced. Dew, hoar frost and radiation fog are all produced under calm, clear, anticyclonic conditions when there is rapid terrestrial radiation at night. Radiation is a form of horizontal movement of air and as a result, limited condensation is achieved.


  1. Advection cooling: This process occurs when warm, moist air moves over a cooler land or sea surface. This occurrence produces advection fogs, which can assist in providing sufficient moisture for a limited vegetation cover as in parts of the Atacama Desert, South America. Advection is a form of horizontal movement of air and as a result, limited condensation is achieved.


  1. Orographic and Frontal uplift: This process involves vertical movements of air. Orographic uplift is the forced ascent of air when it collides with a mountain. As air strikes the windward side, it is uplifted and cooled. Windward slopes of mountains tend to be the rainy sides while the leeward side is dry. Dry climates like steppes and desert are often found in the "rain shadow" of tall mountain systems that are oriented perpendicular to the flow of air. Frontal uplift occurs when greatly contrasting air masses meet along a weather front. For instance, when warm air collides with cool air along a warm front, the warm air is forced to rise up and over the cool air. As the air gently rises over the cool air, horizontally developed stratus-type clouds form. If cold air collides with warm air along a cold front, the more dense cold air can force the warmer air ahead to rise rapidly creating vertically developed cumulus-type clouds.




  1. Convective or Adiabatic cooling: This is when air is warmed during the daytime and rises in pockets as thermals. As the air expands, it uses energy and so loses heat and the temperature drops. The air is cooled by the reduction of pressure with height rather than by a loss of heat to the surrounding air, this is referred to as adiabatic cooling. Both Orographic and adiabatic cooling involve vertical movements of air and are regarded as being more effective mechanisms of condensation.


Condensation does not occur readily in clean air. If air is pure, it can be cooled below its dew point (point where cooled air becomes saturated, just before condensation) to become supersaturated. Clean unsaturated air can be cooled to -40 degrees Celsius before condensation or in this case, sublimation. Pure air, however, is seldom encountered in the atmosphere.


Products of condensation


Condensation results in the formation of small droplets of water. Condensation occurs either near the surface or aloft. Condensation at the surface results in dew formation when the near surface air temperature drops to the dew point temperature. This often occurs at night under cloudless skies when the air is humid.  Under cloudless skies, emitted terrestrial radiation penetrates to space, cooling the surface which then cools the near surface air.



Fog is a cloud that forms near the ground. Fog, like any other product of condensation, requires the air temperature to decrease to the dew point temperature where upon the air is at saturation. Cooling of the near surface air is accomplished either through contact cooling (a diabatic process) or adiabatic cooling.

There are different types of fogs: advection fog, radiation fog, steam fog, frontal fog and upslope fog.

An upslope fog forms when moist air is forced up a slope. These certainly occur as the air encounters hilly terrain and is forced to rise, or if moist air travels up a very long slope. Such might be the situation when air moves out of the Gulf of Mexico travelling west up the Great Plains toward the east slope of the Rocky Mountains. As the air rises it expands and adiabatically cools. Once the air temperature reaches the dew point temperature the air becomes saturated, and condensation occurs to form the fog.




Clouds form by the condensation of water into extremely small droplets of liquid or ice. Clouds are classified according to the height at which they form and their structure. High clouds form above 7,000 m (23,000 ft) and are primarily composed of ice crystals. Meteorologists call these cirrus-form clouds. Mid-level clouds form between 2,000 and 7,000 m. The prefix alto is applied to these clouds. Low clouds form between the surface and 2,000 m.


Source :

Web site link:

Google key word : Condensation meaning definition and explanation file type : doc

Author : not indicated on the source document of the above text

If you are the author of the text above and you not agree to share your knowledge for teaching, research, scholarship (for fair use as indicated in the United States copyrigh low) please send us an e-mail and we will remove your text quickly.


Condensation meaning definition and explanation


If you want to quickly find the pages about a particular topic as Condensation meaning definition and explanation use the following search engine:



Condensation meaning definition and explanation


Please visit our home page Terms of service and privacy page




Condensation meaning definition and explanation