Visualizing Raindrops

  • Released Tuesday, April 12th, 2016
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:48PM
View full credits

Raindrop size matters—in order to accurately know how much precipitation is falling in a storm, scientists need to understand the ratio of large drops to smaller or medium-sized drops. The size of falling raindrops depends on several factors, including where the cloud producing the drops is located on the globe and where the drops originate in the cloud. Now, thanks to the joint NASA and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, scientists have three-dimensional snapshots of precipitation around the world from space. With this new view, scientists can improve rainfall estimates from satellite data and in numerical weather forecast models, helping us better understand and prepare for extreme weather events. Watch the video to learn more.

In this illustration, raindrop size within a storm is shown using color. Blues and greens indicate smaller drops; yellows and reds are larger.

In this illustration, raindrop size within a storm is shown using color. Blues and greens indicate smaller drops; yellows and reds are larger.

Small raindrops, ranging from 0.5-2 mm in size, are typically found near the top and at the edges of a storm cloud.

Small raindrops, ranging from 0.5-2 mm in size, are typically found near the top and at the edges of a storm cloud.

Medium-sized raindrops, around 3-5 mm, are typically found in the middle of a storm cloud.

Medium-sized raindrops, around 3-5 mm, are typically found in the middle of a storm cloud.

Big raindrops, around 4-6 mm, are typically found in the core and near the bottom of a storm cloud.

Big raindrops, around 4-6 mm, are typically found in the core and near the bottom of a storm cloud.

For More Information


App

Credits

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center