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Physical Properties of Water

Authors
  • Stewart, K.M.
Type
Book
Journal
Encyclopedia of Inland Waters
Publication Date
Jan 01, 2009
Pages
148–154
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/B978-012370626-3.00007-7
ISBN: 978-0-12-370626-3
Source
Elsevier
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

This article represents a relatively brief review of some of the unusual physical properties of water, and gives examples of how those properties may influence the world of inland waters. Subtopics include discussions on (1) density, including the nonlinear changes of density with changes in water temperature, and how that interesting property may affect stratification and mixing in lakes around the world; (2) heat capacity or specific heat, and how the enormous heat capacity of some large lakes can serve as a heat source and sink to proximate regions of those lakes in both beneficial and detrimental ways; (3) heats of fusion, melting, vaporization, and condensation and the large amounts of heat exchange required or released during those phase shifts; (4) isotopes of hydrogen and oxygen and their potential importance as tracers; (5) sublimation, the huge amount of heat required to go directly from a solid (ice) phase to a gas or water vapor phase without first becoming a liquid; (6) surface tension and cohesion, the properties that make a barrier out of the surface film and yet provide a specialized niche for some biota; (7) viscosity, the internal friction that water exerts on the movement of any fluid or solid or live organisms through it; and (8) colligative properties, and how these interesting properties also make water so special.

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