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Fog is a collection of water droplets or ice crystals suspended in the air at or near the Earth's surface.[1] While fog is a type of a cloud, the term "fog" is typically distinguished from the more generic term "cloud" in that fog is low-lying, and the moisture in the fog is often generated locally (such as from a nearby body of water, like a lake or the ocean, or from nearby moist ground or marshes).[2]

Fog is distinguished from mist only by its density, as expressed in the resulting decrease in visibility: Fog reduces visibility to less than 1 km (5/8 statute mile), whereas mist reduces visibility to no less than 1 km (5/8 statute mile).[3] For aviation purposes in the UK, a visibility of less than 2 km but greater than 999 m is considered to be mist if therelative humidity is 95% or greater - below 95% haze is reported.[citation needed]

The foggiest place in the world is the Grand Banks off the island of Newfoundland, the meeting place of the cold Labrador Current from the north and the much warmer Gulf Streamfrom the south. Some of the foggiest land areas in the world include Argentia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Point Reyes, California, each with over 200 foggy days per year. Even in generally warmer southern Europe, thick fog and localized fog is often found in lowlands and valleys, such as the lower part of the Po Valley and the Arno and Tibervalleys, as well as on the Swiss plateau, especially in the Seeland area, in late autumn and winter.[citation needed] Other notably foggy areas include coastal Chile (in the south), coastal Namibia, and the Severnaya Zemlya islands. Seattle, Washington, USA, has many foggy days per year



Fog can form in a number of ways, depending on how the cooling that caused the condensation occurred:

Fog over San Francisco Bay is a famous San Francisco fog
Minute particles of water constitute this after dark radiation fog in Oregon with the ambient temperature −2 °C (28 °F).
High speed photo of the above.
−25 °C (−13 °F) air temperature produces immense steam fog over Lake Ontario which is still above freezing.

Radiation fog is formed by the cooling of land after sunset by thermal radiation in calm conditions with clear sky. The cool ground produces condensation in the nearby air by heat conduction. In perfect calm the fog layer can be less than a meter deep but turbulence can promote a thicker layer. Radiation fogs occur at night, and usually do not last long after sunrise. Radiation fog is common in autumn and early winter. Examples of this phenomenon include the Tule fog.[19]

Ground fog is fog that obscures less than 60% of the sky and does not extend to the base of any overhead clouds.[20] However, the term is sometimes used to refer to radiation fog.

Advection fog occurs when moist air passes over a cool surface by advection (wind) and is cooled.[21] It is common as a warm front passes over an area with significant snowpack. It is most common at sea when tropical air encounters cooler waters, including areas of cold water upwelling, such as along the California coast. The advection of fog along the California coastline is propelled onto land by one of several processes. A cold front can push the marine layer coastward, an occurrence most typical in the spring or late fall. During the summer months, a low pressure trough produced by intense heating inland creates a strong pressure gradient, drawing in the dense marine layer. Also during the summer, strong high pressure aloft over the desert southwest, usually in connection with the summer monsoon, produces a south to southeasterly flow which can drive the offshore marine layer up the coastline; a phenomenon known as a "southerly surge", typically following a coastal heat spell. However, if the monsoonal flow is sufficiently turbulent, it might instead break up the marine layer and any fog it may contain. Moderate turbulence will typically transform a fog bank, lifting it and breaking it up into shallow convective clouds called stratocumulus.

Sea smoke, also called steam fog or evaporation fog, is the most localized form and is created by cold air passing over warmer water or moist land.[22] It often causes freezing fog, or sometimes hoar frost.

Precipitation fog (or frontal fog) forms as precipitation falls into drier air below the cloud, the liquid droplets evaporate into water vapor. The water vapor cools and at the dewpoint it condenses and fog forms.

Upslope fog or hill fog forms when winds blow air up a slope (called orographic lift), adiabatically cooling it as it rises, and causing the moisture in it to condense. This often causes freezing fog on mountaintops, where the cloud ceiling would not otherwise be low enough.

Valley fog forms in mountain valleys, often during winter. It is the result of a temperature inversion caused by heavier cold air settling into a valley, with warmer air passing over the mountains above. It is essentially radiation fog confined by local topography, and can last for several days in calm conditions. In California's Central Valley, valley fog is often referred to as Tule fog.

Freezing fog occurs when liquid fog droplets freeze to surfaces, forming white soft or hard rime.[22] This is very common on mountain tops which are exposed to low clouds. It is equivalent to freezing rain, and essentially the same as the ice that forms inside a freezer which is not of the "frostless" or "frost-free" type. The term "freezing fog" may also refer to fog where water vapor is super-cooled, filling the air with small ice crystals similar to very light snow. It seems to make the fog "tangible", as if one could "grab a handful".

Frozen fog (also known as ice fog) is any kind of fog where the droplets have frozen into extremely tiny crystals of ice in midair. Generally this requires temperatures at or below −35 °C (−30 °F), making it common only in and near the Arctic and Antarctic regions.[23] It is most often seen in urban areas where it is created by the freezing of water vapor present in automobile exhaust and combustion products from heating and power generation. Urban ice fog can become extremely dense and will persist day and night until the temperature rises. Extremely small amounts of ice fog falling from the sky form a type of precipitation called ice crystals, often reported in Barrow, Alaska. Ice fog often leads to the visual phenomenon of light pillars.

Artificial fog is artificially generated fog that is usually created by vaporizing a water and glycol-based or glycerine-based fluid. The fluid is injected into a heated block, and evaporates quickly. The resulting pressure forces the vapor out of the exit. Upon coming into contact with cool outside air the vapor condenses and appears as fog.[24]

Garua fog is a type of fog which happens to occur by the coast of Chile and Peru.[25] The normal fog produced by the sea travels inland, but suddenly meets an area of hot air. This causes the water particles of fog to shrink by evaporation, producing a transparent mist. Garua fog is nearly invisible, yet it still forces drivers to use windshield wipers.

Hail fog sometimes occurs in the vicinity of significant hail accumulations due to decreased temperature and increased moisture leading to saturation in a very shallow layer near the surface. It most often occurs when there is a warm, humid layer atop the hail and when wind is light. This ground fog tends to be localized but can be extremely dense and abrupt. It may form shortly after the hail falls; when the hail has had time to cool the air and as it absorbs heat when melting andevaporating.[26]

Ice fog or pogonip is rare, but can occur when temperatures are below -40 °C (-40 °F), when ice crystals freeze while suspended in the air, then stay. 


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