collision theory

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collision theory A theory that accounts for the growth of water droplets in cloud to produce raindrops, based on the mechanisms of collision, coalescence, and ‘sweeping’. It holds that larger drops, with terminal velocities increasing in proportion to their diameter, fall faster than smaller drops, and collide with them. The probability of collision depends on the spacing of the drops in the cloud (i.e. on the mean free path) and on the relative sizes of droplets. For example, if some drops are up to 50 μm diameter in cloud consisting mainly of droplets smaller than this, collisions can be frequent. Such collisions can lead to coalescence, and an overall increase in size to produce particles of raindrop size. ‘Sweeping’ is an ancillary process whereby small drops that are swept into the rear of larger drops may be absorbed. These mechanisms are believed to be entirely responsible for rainfall from tropical convection cloud, as well as playing a part in other clouds, including those of mid-latitudes. See also Bergeron theory.

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collision theory Theory to account for the growth of water droplets in cloud to produce raindrops, based on the mechanisms of collision, coalescence, and ‘sweeping’. It holds that larger drops, with terminal velocities increasing in proportion to their diameter, fall faster than smaller drops, and collide with them. The probability of collision depends on the spacing of the drops in the cloud (i.e. on the mean free path) and on the relative sizes of droplets. For example, if some drops are up to 50μm diameter in cloud consisting mainly of droplets smaller than this, collisions can be frequent. Such collisions can lead to coalescence, and an overall increase in size to produce particles of raindrop size. ‘Sweeping’ is an ancillary process whereby small drops that are swept into the rear of larger drops may be absorbed. These mechanisms are believed to be entirely responsible for rainfall from tropical convection cloud, as well as playing a part in other clouds, including those of mid-latitudes. See also BERGERON THEORY.