A theory, proposed around 1930 by T. Bergeron, and subsequently developed by W. Findeisen, that provides a mechanism for the growth of raindrops in ice/water cloud. It is based on the differential values for saturation vapour pressure over ice and supercooled-water surfaces. At cloud temperatures of -12 to -30 °C air can be saturated over ice but not over water particles, so evaporation can take place from the water droplets, and ice particles can grow by sublimation at the expense of water droplets. When they are large enough, the ice particles can fall from the cloud, melting as they pass through lower, warmer air. The process depends on there being a mixture of ice and water, and so may operate in mid- and high-latitude cloud but not in all clouds, e.g. not in tropical clouds which are at temperatures above freezing. See also collision theory; and ice nucleus.
Subjects: Ecology and Conservation — Earth Sciences and Geography.