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Water and Weather

Part of Chemistry Creations

In Scotland we get a lot of weather – sometimes all sorts of weather in the same hour! And a lot of the world’s weather can be explained by looking at just one chemical - water. Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is liquid water so it’s no surprise it has such a big effect. We normally think of water as the liquid that we drink – but the solid form (ice) and the gas form (steam/water vapour) are important too.

When water changes from one form to another, it can have dramatic effects - check out this video below!

Crushing Can

In terms of weather, the water cycle involves the transportation of water around the landscape. It falls as rain on higher ground, finds its way into streams and rivers. The rivers widen as they flow downhill, shaping the landscape as they go, until they eventually meet the sea. But this is a cycle – the water in lakes and seas evaporates, turning from liquid into a gas, and rising into the air as water vapour and travels across the landscape. When there is too much water for the air to hold, it falls as rain again. Of course, in Scotland we contend with frozen water quite lot – ice, sleet, snow, hail – but in the past there was a lot more ice about. Looking back tens of thousands of years, Scotland was covered in ice – with huge rivers of ice called glaciers – that moulded the landscape we see today. The weather is also influenced by things like temperature, pressure, time of year, wind speed.

There are all sorts of different weather phenomena that depend on water – from light rain showers to dramatic tornados! Tornados are tall but narrow columns of air that spin violently across the land during thunderstorms. They can be destructive but are also very interesting.

Do you want to make your own tornado at home? You can make on using a large bottle and some water – take care though! This one can be messy!

Water is a small molecule – consisting of just three atoms: two hydrogen atoms, and one oxygen – giving it the chemical symbol of H2O. Hydrogen and oxygen are chemical elements – join us tomorrow when we explore the periodic table of elements in our topic "The Chemistry of Fireworks".

Water Droplet
Photo by César Couto on Unsplash
Water Droplet
Tornado in A Bottle (PDF)

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