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Why Most Rain Never Reaches The Ground


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Channel: MinuteEarth
Categories: Environmental   |   Physics   |   Science  
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Less than half of the rain that falls from a cloud makes it all the way to the ground – because a lot evaporates while falling or after landing in treetops.

Thanks to Georgia Southern University for sponsoring this video. Thanks also to our supporters on

You can see more of John Van Stan's research here:

FYI: We try to leave jargon out of our videos, but if you want to learn more about this topic, here are some keywords to get your googling started:
Virga: an observable shaft of precipitation falling from a cloud that evaporates before reaching the ground
Rainfall interception: The fraction of rainfall that falls on leaves, branches and trunks of trees and evaporates before dripping to the ground.

Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: Peter Reich
Script Editor: Alex Reich (@alexhreich)
Video Illustrator: Qingyang Chen (@QCVisual)
Video Director: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Narrator: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Ever Salazar, Emily Elert, David Goldenberg
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder:

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Good, S.P., Noone, D. and Bowen, G., 2015. Hydrologic connectivity constrains partitioning of global terrestrial water fluxes. Science, 349(6244), pp.175-177.

Langhans, W., Yeo, K. and Romps, D.M., 2015. Lagrangian investigation of the precipitation efficiency of convective clouds. Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences, 72(3), pp.1045-1062.

Miralles, D.G., Gash, J.H., Holmes, T.R., de Jeu, R.A. and Dolman, A.J., 2010. Global canopy interception from satellite observations. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres, 115(D16).

Oki, T. and Kanae, S., 2006. Global hydrological cycles and world water resources. science, 313(5790), pp.1068-1072.

Sadeghi, S.M.M., Attarod, P., Van Stan, J.T. and Pypker, T.G., 2016. The importance of considering rainfall partitioning in afforestation initiatives in semiarid climates: A comparison of common planted tree species in Tehran, Iran. Science of the Total Environment, 568, pp.845-855.

Van Stan, J.T., Levia Jr, D.F. and Jenkins, R.B., 2015. Forest canopy interception loss across temporal scales: Implications for urban greening initiatives. The Professional Geographer, 67(1), pp.41-51.

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