Last updated: April 29, 2019

What Does Humidity Mean?

Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Water vapor is the invisible presence of water in its gaseous state. Humidity is a significant aspect of the atmosphere because it affects the weather and the climate.

There are three main types of humidity:

  1. Absolute humidity is the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere at a given temperature.
  2. Relative humidity is a measure of the current humidity in relation to a given temperature.
  3. Specific humidity is the ratio of the water vapor in the atmosphere to the air content on a mass basis.

Maximum Yield Explains Humidity

Water vapor in the atmosphere is produced by many sources, including plants during transpiration, moisture from animals breathing, direct evaporation from snow, rain, and soil, and from bodies of water such as lakes and streams. This water then evaporates into the atmosphere as an important part of the water cycle on the planet. Without the water cycle there would not be any rain.

Water vapor is a naturally occurring greenhouse gas (along with carbon dioxide and methane) and accounts for the biggest portion of the greenhouse effect. Under normal atmospheric conditions, humidity is produced by evaporation and becomes visible as clouds or fog through a process known as condensation. The atmospheric air is heavier than water vapor, and as a result, currents can be generated that can lead to clouds—and consequently rain. The most humid regions on the earth are normally located close to the coastal regions and near the equator.


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