On Tue, 19 Mar 2019 08:06:59 -0700 (PDT), Tom Sr. says...
Note the word *hold* appears in quotes in the article below, meaning the word is used with a qualified meaning.
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"Note" that YOUR original point was NOT whether cold air can "hold" as
much as warm air.
Move that goalpost, Tom "Bi" The NOT-A-SCIENTIST Guy
"True or false: Saturated warm air contains more water vapor than
saturated cold air."
Doesn't matter... it's still a myth that cold air can't HOLD as much water
as warm air.
Does Warm Air "Hold" More Water Vapor Than Cold Air?
By Jack Williams
September 11, 2013 (no, idiot... the properties of warm and cool air have
NOT changed in 5? years)
A OFT-repeated water vapor MYTH is that warm air can "hold" more water
vapor than cool air because as the air warms its molecules move farther
apart, making room for more molecules. This leads to the idea that as air
cools its molecules move closer together, "squeezing" out water vapor.
If you look at what happens in nature, such as clouds beginning to form
when the air rises and grows colder, the idea that condensation begins
when the air grows too cold to "hold" the water vapor in it SEEMS to make
sense (and for you dumbasses out there, like Tom Sr.... "seems" means it
doesn't, really... LOL).
But, saying cold air can't hold as much water vapor as warmer air is at
best a metaphor for what happens. It's a metaphor that can lead people
astray AS THEY TRY TO UNDERSTAND WEATHER.
OBVIOUSLY, Tom Sr. DOESN'T.
To begin with, it doesn't make any physical sense because the air around
us is mostly empty space with molecules of nitrogen, oxygen, water vapor,
and other gases zipping around at speeds in the neighborhood of 1,000 mph
near the ground.
There's plenty of room for water vapor molecules to join the mix. As we
saw above, they would displace some of the nitrogen and oxygen molecules.
We can think of these displaced molecules spreading out into nearby, drier
air. As the air grows colder the average speeds of all of the gasses in
the air slow down, but there is still plenty of room for water vapor.
The best way to see what happens when water evaporates into water vapor
and when this vapor condenses back into water is to imagine a drinking
glass full of water in a room where the air is still. We also need to
imagine we can see water molecules.
If so, you'd see water molecules moving around at various speeds in the
water in the glass glass and also in the air above the water as vapor. On
the average, the molecules in the glass are moving slower than those in
the air. The liquid molecules in the glass are, on the average, slow
enough for intermolecular forces to hold them in the glass while they
otherwise move freely.
The vapor molecules in the air are moving fast enough to overcome
In both cases the molecules are not all moving at the same speed, but at a
wide range of speeds with most of these speeds relatively close to the
average, but a few are moving much faster and others much slower.
Some of the molecules in the glass will be moving fast enough to escape
the water and fly into the air; they evaporate into vapor. In a similar
way, some vapor molecules in the air are going slowly enough to be pulled
into the water by intermolecular forces when they hit the water; they
condense into liquid.
If a breeze is not carrying away water molecules that evaporate into the
air and the temperature doesn't change the number of molecules evaporating
and those condensing are roughly the same. The air isn't becoming more
humid and water is staying at the same level in the glass.
If you cooled the room the average speeds of the water molecules in both
the water and the air would slow. You'd see more water molecules in the
air moving slowly enough to stay in the water when they hit - they've
condensed. At the same time fewer molecules in the water are moving fast
enough to evaporate. The water level in the glass would increase.
If you warmed the room and the water the average speed of the molecules
would increase and more would evaporate until a new equilibrium is reached
between evaporation and condensation.
In the everyday atmosphere, if the air is cooled enough as it rises water
molecules slow down enough to attach to tiny particles in the air known as
condensation nuclei to begin forming fog or cloud drops. At ground level
they form dew drops on grass and objects such as cars.
For more on why saying condensation begins when the air can no longer hold
the water vapor in it is both wrong and can lead to wrong conclusions, see
Alistair B. Fraser's "Bad Clouds" page on his Bad Meteorology site on the
Pennsylvania State University Web site.
"It's all about money in the end. Keeping the Gravy Train running."