Terminal fall velocity

From Glossary of Meteorology
(Redirected from Fall velocity)

terminal fall velocity

(Or terminal velocity.) The particular falling speed, for any given object moving through a fluid medium of specified physical properties, at which the drag forces and buoyant forces exerted by the fluid on the object just equal the gravitational force acting on the object. It falls at constant speed, unless it moves into air layers of different physical properties.

In the atmosphere, the latter effect is so gradual that objects such as raindrops, which attain terminal velocity at great heights above the surface, may be regarded as continuously adjusting their speeds to remain at all times essentially in the terminal fall condition. The terminal fall velocity of water droplets in still air can be computed from Stokes's law for drops smaller than 80 μm in diameter. Above that size, empirical values must be used.