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How The Properties Of Water Are Related To Its Roles In Living Organisms And As A Living Environment For Living Organisms

1044 words - 4 pages

How the Properties of Water are Related to Its Roles in Living Organisms and as a Living Environment for Living Organisms

Over 70% of the world’s surface is covered by water, 95% of which
consists of salty oceans; water is essential to all life forms. A
molecule of water consists of two hydrogen atoms covalently bound to
one atom of oxygen which gives a formula of H2O. When water molecules
are close together their positive and negative regions are attracted
to the oppositely charged regions of nearby molecules. The force of
attraction, shown in the diagram below as a dotted line, is called a
hydrogen bond. Each water molecule is hydrogen bonded to four others.
It is these hydrogen bonds and the polarity of water molecules which
are responsible for many of the unique characteristics and physical
properties of water. Firstly, the attraction created by hydrogen bonds
keeps water liquid over a wider range of temperature than is found for
any other molecule its size. Secondly, the energy required to break
multiple hydrogen bonds causes water to have a high heat of
vaporization; that is a large amount of energy is needed to convert
liquid water, where the molecules are attracted through their hydrogen
bonds, to water vapour, where they are not.

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Water bonds itself to other substances very easily which is why some
insects can glide on water. It also has a high surface tension which
means that it is adhesive and elastic. This means that it sticks to
the sides of vertical structures, for example it allows plants to move
water and dissolved nutrients from roots up to the leaves, and allows
the movement of blood through tiny vessels in the bodies of some
animals.

Water has a high specific heat and it can absorb large amounts of heat
energy before it begins to get hot. This also means that, compared
with air, water releases heat energy slowly when situations cause it
to cool. Water's high specific heat helps organisms to regulate their
body temperatures more effectively. Water vapour is a greenhouse gas,
and both the capability to keep heat in and to transfer heat from the
tropics serves to buffer temperatures on Earth. For example, as
one-half of the Earth rotates away from the sun the fall in
temperature is much more gradual than it would have been if there was
no water vapour in the atmosphere.

As water expands when it freezes it allows ice to float on the surface
which creates an insulating layer on lakes and rivers. This prevents
the entire body of water and all the organisms living in it from
freezing. The weak hydrogen bonding means that ice has a lot...

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