Singing in the Rain

Singing in the Rain

Posted on 27 Jun 2023

Some people walk in the rain, others just get wet. - Roger Miller

Rain often is derided as being unpleasant and inconvenient. It is seen as the weather that causes those fun outside events to be canceled, plans need to be changed, and umbrellas found. However, taking a slightly different viewpoint, rain can be seen as the most wonderful, exciting and varied of all forms of weather. It sustains life, cleans the air, and for many, raises our moods.

When Gene Kelly sang “Singin’ in the Rain” in the 1952 film, he seemed to thoroughly relish the idea of getting soaking wet. In real life, outside of a Hollywood film set, many people are discovering the benefits of taking a walk in the rain. 

Health Benefits of Rain

The smell that rain produces, known as petrichor, is said to have a calming effect on our mood, and increase the sense of wellbeing. When the rain falls, it releases a blend of compounds made up from plants and soil into the air, acting as a form of aromatherapy. It is thought that these feelings stem from when humans were hunter-gatherers, and found food more plentiful and easy to collect during times of rain than drought.

A MIT study also showed that rain can act as a filter for atmospheric pollutants. As a raindrop falls through the atmosphere, a natural phenomenon occurs where the droplet attracts air pollutant particles such as soot, sulfates and other organic particles. This process creates a fresher and less polluted air to breath by the intrepid walker.

The study found that rain drops that were smaller, and a low relative humidity were the most effective conditions for maximum levels of filtration. 

App developers can help their users understand when the rain is likely to fall, allowing them to prepare their day and suitable clothing.  Giving detailed return parameters that include humidity, temperature, visibility etc the OpenWeather One Call API is an easy to use, accurate and detailed product that can be used for a number of different scenarios, including for wellbeing apps.  

The growth of a raindrop

Raindrops are often characterized as being teardrop-shaped, which is not normally the case - smaller raindrops are spherical in shape, and the larger ones tend to get flattened, and appear to be more hamburger shaped. When raindrops become large, above 5mm, they tend to break up into smaller droplets. Although the average size of a raindrop is about 1.5mm, they have been measured by the University of Washington, using specialized laser equipment to be over 8mm wide in two areas of the world - Brazil and the Marshall Islands, who jointly hold the world record for the largest raindrop. 

Rain is formed when water vapor rises into the upper atmosphere where it is cool enough for it to condense. When the droplets become heavy enough, they are released from the clouds, and fall to the earth as precipitation, which in its liquid form is rain. Not all the water reaches the ground, when the falling water droplets encounter warm and dry air, the water droplets evaporate as they fall. This type of rainfall is known as virga, or ‘phantom rain’, and is often encountered in hot desert regions. The Bergeron process is a scientific explanation of how water vapor turns into rainfall.

Rain is not all water

Both natural and human activities produce rain that is made up of more than just water. Volcanoes often produce their own weather systems. The ash particles that are ejected from an active volcano attract water droplets causing increased rainfall. When combined with the volcanic sulfur compounds these rain storms contain high amounts of sulfur dioxide.

Acid rain is one of the consequences of air pollution caused by human activities. Gasses produced from the burning of fuels react with the oxygen in the air and water vapor, transforming into acids that fall onto the earth's surface as rain. The sulphuric and nitric acid laced rainfall can damage sensitive ecosystems, reducing biodiversity in the world’s oceans, inland waterways and forests. It also has a damaging effect on marble statues that actually dissolve when exposed to acid rain. The Taj Mahal in India, Colosseum of Rome, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa all have been affected by acid rain.

Artificial Rain

With increasing levels of drought, some countries have looked into a theoretical technology first developed in the 1940s. Cloud seeding involves using aircraft or drones to add small particles of silver iodide, which have a structure similar to ice, to clouds. Water droplets are attracted to the particles, modifying the structure of the clouds and increasing the chance of rain. The effectiveness of this technology has always been very difficult to measure due to the variability of clouds, and their transient and turbulent nature. 

The Ancient Atmosphere

Raindrops could provide key information about how the atmosphere of the young planet Earth evolved. Pioneering geologist Charles Lyell suggested that measuring the diameter of fossilized indentations made by the rain falling at the birth of our planet’s atmosphere could help gain an insight into its composition. The recent discovery of 2.7billion year old fossilized raindrop craters (ironically, revealed by the cleansing effect of modern rain) in South Africa has led scientists to understand that the primeval atmosphere was at most twice as dense as today’s. The denser atmosphere caused the rain to fall slower, influencing the size of the impressions the drops made when they stuck volcanic ash. The denser atmosphere, coupled with a weaker sun that emitted about 85% of today’s radiation would have meant that the ancient sky would have appeared significantly different, and far more hazy than the one that we are used to seeing today.

Understanding Rain

Gene Kelly’s famous rainstorm may well have been a result of some creative Hollywood special effects, but being able to predict the rain in the real world can be a valuable tool for transport and logistics organizations who can be warned of possible disruptions to their services, enabling them to effectively reallocate resources. Those in the sustainable energy industry can view and track weather systems, helping them manage supply and storage. 

The OpenWeather One Call API 3.0 provides a host of nuanced, accurate and useful historic, current and forecast weather data for any global location. The one minute step forecast feature can provide a useful insight into the future precipitation, helping those with weather-sensitive events and activities make their plans. 

OpenWeather supplies a versatile collection of weather maps, including the Global Precipitation Maps that gives current and historical weather for the previous 2 days with a 10 minutes-step, and resolution of less than 1 km.

OpenWeather’s advanced ML-based numerical weather model performs at up to 500 m resolution and allows its users to obtain highly localized nuances of climate in order to build accurate, efficient products. Our model is updated every 10 minutes and provides data on all essential weather parameters such as temperature, precipitation, wind, pressure and others.

The model’s resolution varies from 500 meters for UK territories to 2 kilometers for the other world. The model uses a number of data sources - radars, models from global meteorological agencies (e.g., Met Office, NOAA, ECMWF), weather satellites, and a vast network of weather stations.

These maps give a global, accurate, feature-rich and graphical display of weather data that can enhance application solutions in a wide variety of scenarios.

About OpenWeather:

OpenWeather provides weather data for any location on the globe using a proprietary hyperlocal forecasting model with a resolution from 500 m to 2 km, globally. More than 5,000,000 customers from logistics, agriculture, insurance, energy, retail, and many other sectors, are working with the company's weather products. 

OpenWeather cooperates with global meteorological agencies such as MetOffice and NOAA, and enhances its model with data from radars, weather stations and satellites. The company provides great availability of service at 99.9% for enterprise-level products. 

The products can be easily integrated into complex IT systems and are ideal for ML analytic systems. OpenWeather is a member of Royal Meteorological Society and an Achilles-certified supplier. OpenWeather ethical initiatives include support of educators and students, not-for-profit subscriptions for the general public to increase weather awareness, and recent Ukrainian donation programme, and donations to COVID researchers.

For more information on how to gain access to our OpenWeather products, please email us.

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