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RAIN IS COMPOSED of water droplets formed from vapor that has condensed in the Earth's atmosphere. Regular rainfall is vital to the functioning of the biosphere, and even minor fluctuations in the amount of rain can have substantial impact on the ecosystem. Climatologists believe that rainfall patterns are going to change dramatically as the atmosphere heats up in the coming decades, with potentially damaging consequences.

How Rain Forms

Precipitation forms under three main types of conditions: convective uplift, frontal uplift, and orographie uplift. Convective uplift is common in the equatorial tropics and during the summer months. As the sun heats up the Earths surface, the humid, warm air rises into the atmosphere, cools, forms tall, unstable cumulonimbus clouds, and then releases its moisture in a quick downpour.

Frontal ...

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