Water Articles

Scientists have isolated the two different forms of water molecule for the first time.   BBC - May 30, 2018
Water molecules were known to exist as two distinct "isomers", or types, based on their slightly different properties at the atomic level. By separating out the two isomers, researchers were able to show that they behave differently in the way that they undergo chemical reactions. In basic terms, water molecules consist of a single oxygen atom bonded to a pair of hydrogen atoms. However, they can be further subdivided based on a property of the nuclei at the hearts of the hydrogen atoms - their "spin". While they aren't spinning in the sense we would understand, this property of hydrogen nuclei does affect the rotation of the water molecules themselves. If the nuclear spins of the two hydrogen atoms in water are oriented in the same direction, it is called ortho-water. If they are arranged in different directions, it is known as para-water.

Levitating water droplets with sound waves to improve contaminant detection   Science Daily - May 7, 2018
This approach allows the water to evaporate, which concentrates the sample for spectroscopic detection of harmful heavy metal contaminants such as lead and mercury in water. Detecting small amounts of heavy metals in water is important because these contaminants are harmful to human health and the environment. The new technique could eventually lead to instruments that perform real-time, on-site contaminant monitoring, which could help prevent future lead contamination problems like the Flint, Michigan, water crisis or detect contaminated wastewater from industrial sites.

Greenland Is Literally Cracking Apart and Flooding the World   Live Science - March 16, 2018
Visit Greenland on the right summer day, and you could see a 12-billion-gallon lake disappear before your very eyes. Glaciologists saw this happen for the first time in 2006, when a 2.2-square-mile (5.6 square kilometers) lake of melted ice drained away into nothing in less than 2 hours. Researchers now see such events as a regular part of Greenland's increasingly hot summer routine; every year, thousands of temporary lakes pop up on Greenland's surface as the surrounding ice melts, sit around for a few weeks or months, and then suddenly drain away through cracks in the ice sheet underneath. On a recent expedition, however, researchers saw an alarming new pattern behind Greenland's mysterious disappearing lakes: They're starting to drain farther and farther inland. That's because the summer lakes of Greenland drain in a "cascading" chain reaction enabled by a vast, interconnected web of cracks below the ice - and as temperatures climb, the web is getting wider.

A half degree more global warming could flood out 5 million more people   PhysOrg - March 9, 2018
The 2015 Paris climate agreement sought to stabilize global temperatures by limiting warming to "well below 2.0 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels," but a recent literature review found the 2 degree limitation "inadequate" and concluded that limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees would "come with several advantages."

Does Pure Water Exist?   Live Science - December 29, 2017
It seems like so-called pure water is very important to people. Bottled-spring-water brands put the word "pure" before "fresh" and "clean" in their advertisements. Water-purifier companies make billions of dollars all over the world promising to cut anything but H2O out of tap water. There's even a whole branch of alternative medicine built on imagined, seemingly magical properties of superpure water. Here's the thing, though: Pure water doesn't exist. Or, at the very least, it's not really possible on Earth.

A Bizarre New Form of Liquid Water Is Discovered   Live Science - June 26, 2017
Liquid water comes in two forms - low density and high density, scientists have found. The findings add to the anomalous properties of this ubiquitous, life-giving liquid, which is like no other on Earth.

Can Water Naturally Flow Uphill?   Live Science - March 27, 2017
Earth's gravity is strong, but can water ever naturally go against it and flow uphill? The answer is yes, if the parameters are right. For instance, a wave on a beach can flow uphill, even if it's for just a moment. Water in a siphon can flow uphill too, as can a puddle of water if it's moving up a dry paper towel dipped in it. Even more curiously, Antarctica has a river that flows uphill underneath one of its ice sheets. So, how does science explain these upward watery movements?

World’s oldest water gets even older   BBC - December 14, 2016
The world’s oldest water, which is locked deep within the Earth’s crust, just got even older. The liquid was discovered deep down in a mine in Canada in 2013 and is about 1.5 billion years old. But now, at the same site, University of Toronto scientists have found a deeper source of water that is at least 500 million years more ancient. The first pool of ancient water was discovered 2.4km-down in a copper, zinc and silver mine.

Where Did Earth's Water Come From?   Live Science - July 7, 2016
There are two prevailing theories: One is that the Earth held onto some water when it formed, as there would have been ice in the nebula of gas and dust (called the proto-solar nebula) that eventually formed the sun and the planets about 4.5 billion years ago. Some of that water has remained with the Earth, and might be recycled through the planet's mantle layer, according to one theory. The second theory holds that the Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury would have been close enough to that proto-solar nebula that most of their water would have been vaporized by heat; these planets would have formed with little water in their rocks. In Earth's case, even more water would have been vaporized when the collision that formed the moon happened. In this scenario, instead of being home-grown, the oceans would have been delivered by ice-rich asteroids, called carbonaceous chondrites.

Researchers shed new light on the origins of Earth's water   PhysOrg - November 12, 2015
Water covers more than two-thirds of Earth's surface, but its exact origins are still something of a mystery. Scientists have long been uncertain whether water was present at the formation of the planet, or if it arrived later, perhaps carried by comets and meteorites. Now researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, using advanced ion-microprobe instrumentation, have found that rocks from Baffin Island in Canada contain evidence that Earth's water was a part of our planet from the beginning.

Where does water go when it doesn't flow?   PhysOrg - July 9, 2015
More than a quarter of the rain and snow that falls on continents reaches the oceans as runoff. Now a new study helps show where the rest goes: two-thirds of the remaining water is released by plants, more than a quarter lands on leaves and evaporates and what's left evaporates from soil and from lakes, rivers and streams.

Water Hoarding Begins in Brazil as One of the World's Largest Cities Runs Out of Water   Epoch Times - March 16, 2015
The historic drought gripping South America’s largest nation is deepening, leading to rationing and forcing residents in one of the world’s biggest cities to hoard water. As reported by Reuters, besides hoarding, Brazilians in Sao Paulo are drilling homemade wells and implementing additional emergency measures ahead of forced rationing that could lead to water being shut off at taps for as long as five days a week. In Sao Paulo, a major metropolitan city of 20 million, the main water reservoir has fallen to just 6 percent of its capacity, and the peak of the rainy season has recently passed.

Discovery of Earth's northernmost perennial spring   Science Daily - June 17, 2014

Scientists have discovered the highest latitude perennial spring known in the world. This high-volume spring demonstrates that deep groundwater circulation through the cryosphere occurs, and can form gullies in a region of extreme low temperatures and with morphology remarkably similar to those on Mars. The 2009 discovery raises many new questions because it remains uncertain how such a high-volume spring can originate in a polar desert environment.

Megafloods: What They Leave Behind   Science Daily - January 17, 2014
South-central Idaho and the surface of Mars have an interesting geological feature in common: amphitheater-headed canyons. These U-shaped canyons with tall vertical headwalls are found near the Snake River in Idaho as well as on the surface of Mars, according to photographs taken by satellites. Various explanations for how these canyons formed have been offered -- some for Mars, some for Idaho, some for both.

Global Sea Level Rise Dampened by Australia Floods   Science Daily - August 19, 2013
When enough raindrops fall over land instead of the ocean, they begin to add up. New research led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) shows that when three atmospheric patterns came together over the Indian and Pacific oceans, they drove so much precipitation over Australia in 2010 and 2011 that the world's ocean levels dropped measurably. Unlike other continents, the soils and topography of Australia prevent almost all of its precipitation from running off into the ocean. The 2010-11 event temporarily halted a long-term trend of rising sea levels caused by higher temperatures and melting ice sheets. Now that the atmospheric patterns have snapped back and more rain is falling over tropical oceans, the seas are rising again. In fact, with Australia in a major drought, they are rising faster than before.

The 20 Cities Most Vulnerable to Flooding   Live Science - August 19, 2013
Researchers have just figured out which cities across the globe face the highest risk from coastal flooding. To do so, they compiled data on 136 coastal cities with more than 1 million residents, looking at the elevation of the cities, the population distribution and the types of flood protection they had, such as levees or storm-surge barriers. They then combined that data with forecasts of sea level rise, ground sinking due to groundwater depletion, as well as population growth projections and economic forecasts of gross domestic product (GDP). From there, they used the depth of water flooding a city to estimate the cost of the damage.

A cold look at planet Earth: Learning from the world's frozen places   PhysOrg - February 13, 2013
Water, the key to life, is also a key to understanding the way the natural world works. Water in the form of ice is especially instructive. Water moves through the hydrologic cycle, one of the most basic and vital processes of Earth's systems, in three forms - as a liquid in seas and streams; as a vapor in clouds and fog; and as a solid in ice. Found predominately in glaciers, the world's ice is, by nature, temperature dependent. Thus the presence or absence of glaciers and their geographic distribution around the globe are closely linked to Earth's historical and current climate conditions and to changes in global sea level.

Confirmed: There's life in buried Antarctic lake   MSNBC - February 13, 2013
Blobs and smears of microbial life growing in clear plastic disks are confirmation of a community living in a lake buried beneath the Antarctic ice, scientists studying the lake have said. Water retrieved from subglacial Lake Whillans contains about 1,000 bacteria per milliliter (about a fifth of a teaspoon) of lake water. Petri dishes swiped with samples of the lake water are already growing colonies of microbes at a good rate

Water still has a few secrets to tell   PhysOrg - January 22, 2010
We are used to thinking of water as a substance with relatively few secrets left. Its basic structure has been studied by high school students for decades, and water is considered essential to our survival, as it is so abundant. We tend to think that we've got water pretty well figured out, and what we know about it is of vital importance to life on Earth. But, as a team at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, recently found, water isn't as straightforward as we might think.

Water droplets shape graphene nanostructures   PhysOrg - December 17, 2009
A single-atom-thick sheet of carbon, like those seen in pencil marks -- offers great potential for new types of nanoscale devices, if a good way can be found to mold the material into desired shapes.

Will Water Footprints be the Next Energy Star?   National Geographic - November 27, 2009
Like their cousin the carbon footprint, water footprints are one of the latest methods scientists and policy makers are using to assess humanity's impact on the planet. And now businesses are starting to use water footprinting as well. A water footprint measures the total amount of water it takes for a company to manufacture and transport a product, or for a city, country, or business to operate.

Physicists reveal water's secrets PhysOrg - March 3, 2007
It's essential to all life, and numerous research papers are published about it every year. Yet there are still secrets to reveal about water, that seemingly simple compound we know as H2O. Their new first-principle simulation of water molecules--based exclusively on quantum physics laws and utilizing no experimental data--will aid science and industry in a broad range of applications, from biological investigations of protein folding and other life processes, to the design of the next generation of power plants.