Disappearing Act of Water

Water is a wonder liquid. It is a universal solvent as it has the capacity to dissolve almost any substance. Hence living entities consume water extensively to carry out chemical reactions and biological processes in the body. Apart from drinking, water is used in bathing, washing clothes, cooking, cleaning utensils and other miscellaneous activities.

But where does all this water come from? Do we have enough water to carry out all our activities?

The water we use on a daily basis comes from ponds, rivers, lakes, dams, reservoirs which contain freshwater. These water bodies are refilled by rain through the water cycle. People in cities get access to a good amount of water which tends to get misused. While those in remote areas face scarcity of water to carry out even basic chores and worse conditions lead to unavailability of water for drinking. We need to use water wisely since the availability of freshwater is decreasing by the day due to many serious factors such as growing population, Global warming etc.

Why does spilt water dry up after a few minutes? How do wet clothes get dried? After rains, water disappears from roads, rooftops etc. How does water disappear?

Water has a property to transition into different states of matter. On heating, water turns into its gaseous state and forms vapours. Water vapours thus formed is carried away by air and is not visible. Hence water seems to disappear from rooftops, roads etc. This process is called evaporation and is usually carried out during the day time i.e, in the presence of sunlight.

During the daytime, sunlight falls everywhere – on land, fields, water bodies, such as lakes, rivers, oceans. Water from these sources is continuously absorbed and turns into vapours, leaving dissolved nutrients and salts behind. All air surrounding us gets heated during the daytime. This air is warm and facilitates evaporation of water even in the shade from all open surfaces, as a result of which water continuously gets added to the air. Evaporation is a slow process but in the presence of sunlight, it occurs rapidly.

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Further reading: Difference between Transpiration and Evaporation

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