Related topics: planets · mars · water · nasa · earth

Water still has a few secrets to tell

(PhysOrg.com) -- 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, ...

Why Does Water Expand When it Cools? A New Explanation

(PhysOrg.com) -- Most of us, when we take our first science classes, learn that when things cool down, they shrink. (When they heat up, we learn, they usually expand.) However, water seems to be the exception to the rule. ...

Martian snow is dusty, could potentially melt, new study shows

Over the last two decades, scientists have found ice in many locations on Mars. Most Martian ice has been observed from orbital satellites like NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. But determining the grain size and dust content ...

'Lakes' under Mars' south pole: A muddy picture?

Two research teams, using data from the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter, have recently published results suggesting that what were thought to be subsurface lakes on Mars may not really be lakes at all.

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Water

Water is a ubiquitous chemical substance, composed of hydrogen and oxygen, that is essential for the survival of many known forms of life. In typical usage, water refers only to its liquid form or state, but the substance also has a solid state, ice, and a gaseous state, water vapor or steam. Water covers 71% of the Earth's surface. On Earth, it is found mostly in oceans and other large water bodies, with 1.6% of water below ground in aquifers and 0.001% in the air as vapor, clouds (formed of solid and liquid water particles suspended in air), and precipitation. Saltwater oceans hold 97% of surface water, glaciers and polar ice caps 2.4%, and other land surface water such as rivers, lakes and ponds 0.6%. A very small amount of the Earth's water is contained within biological bodies and manufactured products. Other water is trapped in ice caps, glaciers, aquifers, or in lakes, sometimes providing fresh water for life on land.

Water moves continually through a cycle of evaporation or transpiration (evapotranspiration), precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Winds carry water vapor over land at the same rate as runoff into the sea. Over land, evaporation and transpiration contribute to the precipitation over land.

Clean, fresh drinking water is essential to human and other lifeforms. Access to safe drinking water has improved steadily and substantially over the last decades in almost every part of the world. There is a clear correlation between access to safe water and GDP per capita. However, some observers have estimated that by 2025 more than half of the world population will be facing water-based vulnerability. Water plays an important role in the world economy, as it functions as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances and facilitates industrial cooling and transportation. Approximately 70 percent of freshwater is consumed by agriculture.

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