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Thread: Are water levels constant?

  1. #1 Are water levels constant? 
    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Im just wondering if the water on our beloved Terra is constant. I mean - is water being drained into the earth, evaporated in the atmosphere etc? Is the water on earth decreasing or increasing in any way or does it just stay the same?


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    There's more polluted water today, less fresh water that is drinkable that is, than ever before. The amounts don't vary that much for water can evaporate but it condenses then rains down again somewhere else. That is why ceratain areas get droughts while other areas are flooding.


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    The humidity of the atmosphere is increasing as the average temperature of both the air and the oceans increases. That water is not staying in the atmosphere though, it still condenses out in a 7-10 day cycle as it has always done. The whole cycle is just "busier" with more water in transition at any one time, so more precipitation, more storms, more downpours, more floods in the areas that get such things.

    In terms of fresh water draining through the soil and rocks into aquifers - there's an imbalance at the moment because we're pumping out far more than we are allowing to accumulate. And we're also withholding a fair amount of fresh water by damming rivers. Fresh surface water is only a tiny portion of total water on the planet though. from wiki
    Only 2.5% of the Earth's water is freshwater, and 98.8% of that water is in ice and groundwater. Less than 0.3% of all freshwater is in rivers, lakes, and the atmosphere
    As for sea level - if that's what you mean by water level - it's steadily rising by a few mm a year. There was a downwards blip a couple of years ago when we had those extraordinary floods in Pakistan and Australia when so much water transferred from ocean to the land surface, but that's all returned now and the graph line is now at the same point it would have been if that had never happened.
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    Forum Ph.D. Raziell's Avatar
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    Thanks for the answers I was just merely wondering if the total amount of water on the earth (Fresh/salt - doesent matter) is increasing, decreasing or staying the same.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    As for sea level - if that's what you mean by water level - it's steadily rising by a few mm a year.
    Why would this be? Melting polar ice?
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    Why would this be? Melting polar ice?
    Only a little bit for the time being. Once the big ice sheets start to collapse the story will change.

    The biggest contributor so far is expansion because the water is warming. The temperature change isn't all that much at first glance, but the amount of water affected is inconceivably gigantic.
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    The amount of water may be increasing, but very, very slightly - by comets (or debris from comets) entering the atmosphere.
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    there's 3 mechanisms that i see that could raise sea levels, 2 of them geologically instantaneous and the other of longer duration

    the short-term ones are melting ice caps and the thermal expansion of water in the oceans
    the longer-term one is whether sea floor spreading is active or not - active sea floor spreading means higher submarine mountain chains which displaces more ocean water on continental margins
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  10. #9  
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    The water is basically recycled because of the hydrologic cycle (water cylcle). The water thst dinosaurs drunk is the water we drink today.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheNewEinstein View Post
    The water is basically recycled because of the hydrologic cycle (water cylcle). The water thst dinosaurs drunk is the water we drink today.
    It gets worse.

    We're all drinking pee, from dino pee to prophet pee. A small group in Germany has drank Hitler pee. (shudder)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    A small group in Germany has drank Hitler pee. (shudder)
    although the active ingredient has been diluted to homeopathic doses
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    Im just wondering if the water on our beloved Terra is constant. I mean - is water being drained into the earth, evaporated in the atmosphere etc? Is the water on earth decreasing or increasing in any way or does it just stay the same?
    Unable to tell from the OP that time period you are interested in.

    Total water on the planet is changing over long geologic time peried, as Trilobite suggest some is being added by comet materials. Also a bit it being lost by dissociation of water vapor in the upper atmosphere and hydrogen escape. Both work over exceedingly long periods (think hundreds of millions of years)--Earth has probably lost a 3rd or more of its water over the past 4 billion years.

    At the other end of the scale are short term year to year variations such as El Nino events which result in huge regional floods that create a temporary drop in sea level. A bit longer time scale are climate changes which is reasonably well covered with thread comments already.
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    The total amount of water on, in and around earth is increasing as extra terrestrial water from comets, etc.. rains down almost constantly, but in very minute quantities.........

    into the mix is that water doesn't stay as water Photosynthesizers strip it of the H then release the O
    and hydrogen oxidises readily rejoining with O2--------2H2 +O2 = 2H2O + energy(heat)

    so, my guess would be; ebbs and flows with a very slow increase over eons
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    There is strong evidence that in relativly recent geologic time sea levels have been significantly lower. The great blue hole in the Reef in Belize is the fallen in top of a water cave similar to mammoth cave in kentucky. That is a cave caused by fresh water erosion. So although the cave is now below sea level it must have been formed when it was above sealevel. The blue hole is about a hundred feet deep.
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    Malignant Pimple shlunka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverfly View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by TheNewEinstein View Post
    The water is basically recycled because of the hydrologic cycle (water cylcle). The water thst dinosaurs drunk is the water we drink today.
    It gets worse.

    We're all drinking pee, from dino pee to prophet pee. A small group in Germany has drank Hitler pee. (shudder)
    I prefer to drink my urine straight from the tap though.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shlunka View Post
    I prefer to drink my urine straight from the tap though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmictraveler View Post
    There's more polluted water today, less fresh water that is drinkable that is, than ever before. The amounts don't vary that much for water can evaporate but it condenses then rains down again somewhere else. That is why ceratain areas get droughts while other areas are flooding.
    Even if water is pollute we still can drink it after some chemical operations.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx_Fox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Raziell View Post
    Im just wondering if the water on our beloved Terra is constant. I mean - is water being drained into the earth, evaporated in the atmosphere etc? Is the water on earth decreasing or increasing in any way or does it just stay the same?
    Unable to tell from the OP that time period you are interested in.

    Total water on the planet is changing over long geologic time peried, as Trilobite suggest some is being added by comet materials. Also a bit it being lost by dissociation of water vapor in the upper atmosphere and hydrogen escape. Both work over exceedingly long periods (think hundreds of millions of years)--Earth has probably lost a 3rd or more of its water over the past 4 billion years.

    At the other end of the scale are short term year to year variations such as El Nino events which result in huge regional floods that create a temporary drop in sea level. A bit longer time scale are climate changes which is reasonably well covered with thread comments already.
    I think I read that, over the course of geological time, volcanism has led to an increase of liquid water on the Earth's surface, due to it providing a route for "outgassing" from the planetary interior. (Though some of that erupted water comes from water entrained at subduction zones, so merely recycled from the oceans.)

    Also, the amount of free oxygen in the atmosphere has varied over time. Presumably the growth of free oxygen comes at the expense of a decrease in water, the corresponding free hydrogen being bound with carbon in plant matter. But I have not done the maths to know whether this would have materially affected the amount of free water on the planet.
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