The water cycle is one of the most important cycles that govern ecosystems, and it greatly conditions our life. Within the water cycle we find condensation, which occurs in different ways and also has different repercussions.
In AgroCorrn we tell you what water condensation is and we give you examples, to help you understand this phenomenon a little better and its importance.
- What is water condensation – definition
- Water condensation point or temperature
- Condensation: examples
- Difference between condensation and evaporation
What is water condensation – definition
Water condensation is defined as the passage of water from its gaseous state , in the form of vapor, to a liquid state . For this transformation to take place, the water must lose energy: the water vapor particles have accumulated a great energy between their molecules, which allows them to distance themselves from each other. When this energy is lost, normally due to cooling or loss of thermal energy, the water molecules adopt less mobility and join each other, remaining in a liquid state. Although this definition is very simple, there are several parameters that influence this phenomenon.
Water condensation point or temperature
Condensation depends on several factors , including temperature, air saturation, and pressure.
When the temperature decreases, the kinetic energy of the molecules decreases directly, which promotes condensation. For the condensation of water in the air to occur, a temperature limit called “dew point” must be lowered. The dew point is not fixed: it depends on the other two factors, especially pressure.
The specific amount of water vapor that an air mass contains is called “absolute humidity.” In contrast, the amount of water vapor that an air mass contains compared to the total vapor it can hold is “relative humidity.” When the air becomes saturated (100% relative humidity), the dew point is reached. As in the previous case, the point at which we reach saturation varies with pressure and temperature. However, it is easier for water to condense in an air mass with 90% relative humidity than it is for 10% humidity.
Rainforests and other ecosystems with high forest biomass and high water availability are especially saturated places.
The higher the air pressure, the more difficult is the expansion of the water molecules, and therefore the more easily condensation occurs. In the mountains, rain occurs not only because of low temperatures, but also because the air drives the clouds towards the slopes of the mountains. It must also be taken into account that there is a reduction in atmospheric pressure, especially at high altitudes.
Here are some examples of water condensation that are very significant and easy to understand:
Rain occurs when water vapor condenses and falls by gravity. It has several consequences, which you can read below:
- Water cycle: as we have already mentioned, the water cycle is one of the most important that exist in nature. Water condensation determines the amount of precipitation that occurs in a specific territory, which in turn influences the total availability of water.
- Geological agent: the rains form streams and other water courses that are of great importance for the modeling of the terrain. Through runoff phenomena, various geological formations can be generated, such as gullies.
- Soil degradation and desertification: especially in bare lands, devoid of vegetation and with impoverished or underdeveloped soil, water contributes to the erosion of the surface horizon rich in organic matter (and in turn supports the vegetation). The rain thus accelerates the desertification of the territory . If there are contaminants, they also percolate with the water.
- Acid rain : the rain carries with it the particles that are in the air. When acids derived from sulfur and nitrogen are entrained, causing serious damage to ecosystems. Here you can learn everything about Acid Rain: definition, causes and consequences .
By producing an energy emission during condensation, the dew causes the vegetation to have an extra contribution of temperature. In addition, it also contributes to the availability of water and the phenomena that we have detailed for rain.
Through mist collection devices, especially on mountain slopes, water vapor can be used to generate water suitable for human consumption. These structures have traditionally been used in the Canary Islands.
Difference between condensation and evaporation
Condensation and evaporation are totally different phenomena. Specifically, while condensation is the passage of water from the gaseous state to the liquid state, evaporation is the passage of water from the liquid state to the gaseous state.
Therefore, we can see that, in fact, it is two opposite phenomena, they are just the opposite process.
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