How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works
 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
 
Question 98

How do clouds exist? If oxygen molecules, which must weight less than water vapor are drawn toward earth, then why aren't the clouds?
First, water molecules are lighter than the average air molecule so a balloon filled with water vapor would actually float in air. But that isn't what you're asking. Clouds exist because when water condenses from vapor to liquid, it often forms extremely tiny water droplets. These droplets are so small that they experience lots of air resistance as they try to move about. They begin to fall but quickly reach terminal velocity at perhaps a millimeter per second. The water droplets drift downward so slowly that they hardly move. That's what's happening in a cloud. The water droplets are trying to fall, but air resistance is slowing their descents.
         

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