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What is Evaporation? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Evaporation
  • 0:53 Examples
  • 2:28 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Jeff Fennell

Jeff has a master's in engineering and has taught Earth science both domestically and internationally.

Evaporation is the process of a substance in a liquid state changing to a gaseous state due to an increase in temperature and/or pressure. Evaporation is a fundamental part of the water cycle and is constantly occurring throughout nature.

Evaporation

Evaporation is the process by which water changes from a liquid to a gas or vapor. Water boils at 212 degrees F (100 degrees C), but it actually begins to evaporate at 32 degrees F (0 degrees C); it just occurs extremely slowly. As the temperature increases, the rate of evaporation also increases.

The amount of evaporation depends on the temperature, and it also depends on the amount of water there is to evaporate. For example, there is not much evaporation occurring in the Sahara Desert, but why? Although it can get extremely hot in the Sahara, it's just sand - there's just not much water to be evaporated.

Here are world evaporation rates for both July and December, respectively:

The average worldwide evaporation rates for July
july evaporation

The average worldwide evaporation rates for December
December evaporation

Examples

Evaporation occurs every day, both in natural and manmade environments. Let's discuss some common examples of evaporation.

Evaporation occurs most often in the oceans around the world. The oceans cover a vast majority of the Earth, from the poles to the Equator. When we take a look at the temperatures of ocean water around the globe, we can see that the rate of evaporation near the Equator is greater due to the temperature increase.

The rate of evaporation is proportional to the ocean temperature.
ocean temperatures

One byproduct of evaporation can be used to season your food. Salt is extracted from the seawater by allowing the water to evaporate over long periods of time. The salt that gives salt water its saline taste is left behind. Salt ponds evaporate slowly at normal temperatures. The salt left over from the evaporated ponds is then used to make table salt.

Evaporation pond
evaporation pond

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