Saturday, February 13, 2016

Water (2/12/2016)

Walking in the woods this morning after a very cold morning I was reminded of one of the things I really try to push in my classes: 

“The importance of (clean) water!”

I tell my students that life is not possible without water and that one of the reasons is that water has these special properties.  One of these properties is that is expands when is gets colder than approximately 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Below that temperature water becomes more buoyant (lighter) because of the expansion and rises to the top of the water column.  When temperatures drop below freezing water freezes on top and creates this insulated layer which allows fish and aquatic life to survive in lakes, ponds, rivers and oceans (and it allows my crazy Dutch country men and women to win gold medals in speed skating).  If water would freeze from the bottom up these water bodies would be lifeless because every thing wold freeze to death.  This is also one reason why NASA is so fascinated by the (water) moons of Jupiter and Saturn, because they are expected to have liquid water deep down.  There may be life up there!

After an night of frost you can see the small cracks that formed and refroze as a result of the expanding ice, creating this magnificent mosaic.

The photograph above gives a great example of it all.  There is liquid water under the ice.  Obviously after the water froze it got even colder and the expanding ice has all kinds of small cracks in it from expanding and now looks like a mosaic.  Really cool!  Although it may be quite disturbing that instead of enjoying nature, I am constantly analyzing things in nature, just like that cartoon that I saw on Facebook of how a scientist spends his vacation on a tropical island.

Science humor and science cartoons about vacation
Click <here> to see the site where I found the cartoon and to see many more science cartoons!

Anyway, I do teach almost daily about the importance of water, about the importance of clean water and about keeping it clean through erosion and sediment control and stormwater management.

Expanding ice in wet soil causes what we call frost heaving.  These soil particles become very loose and can become erodible and end up in our stormwater.

What can you contribute to keeping our water clean?
  1. Pick up your animal’s waste, especially when they do it on the road or in or near a place where it will readily enter the stormwater
  2. Don't over-fertilize or apply too much pesticide to your yard
  3. When you apply fertilizer or pesticide stay a few yards away from streets or your property boundary
  4. When you wash your car do it on the lawn not on a paved surface, like your driveway or the road in front of your home.  Better, do it at a car wash.
  5. Don’t poor waste oil or any other wastes down the storm drain
  6. Minimize the bare soil in our yards and mulch
We all can contribute to clean water, and it is so important!  If we run out of water, our earth will turn into something like Mars, lifeless; without clean water who knows, but it will not be pretty.  As I teach my students:

"Filthy water cannot be washed!"

The big ephemeral pond behind our home has the same mosaic like features.  The water in these ponds is so nice and clean.

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