How does wind affect evaporation?


Quick Answer

Wind increases the rate of evaporation by removing air already laden with water vapor from above the water. The rate of evaporation depends, in part, on the existing level of water vapor in the surrounding air, since water vapor condenses at the same time as water evaporates in normal circumstances. Strong winds also move the water, expanding the amount of surface area available for evaporation.

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Full Answer

The other major factors affecting the rate of evaporation are the temperature of the water, the temperature of the surrounding air, the level of moisture in the air and the amount of sunlight hitting the water. The temperature of water reflects the speed at which the water molecules are moving. Molecules can escape the liquid more easily when they are moving faster, and so the water evaporates more rapidly.

Sunlight contributes to heating water, particularly at the surface. The photons of light hitting water molecules excite them to faster motion. A warm body of water evaporates water very rapidly. The temperature of the surrounding air controls its capacity to hold water vapor as a gas. Colder air will cause the water vapor to cool, and more will return to the liquid state, even above warm water.

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