When we go to the beach, it’s rarely to rack our brains with silly questions, the answers to which are anything but obvious. That’s good, I’m not going to the beach. So I have the right to rack my brains, with silly questions, so that their answers are obvious. Why is sea water salty?
1. Why is the water salty?
You have to go back a long (a long) time to understand. 4 billion years ago, our blue planet was covered in volcanoes that released water vapor and gases (including chlorine and sulfur) into the atmosphere. When the oceans formed a few hundred million years later, they absorbed these gases, which then dissolved into sulfate, which began to salt the water. During the millions of years that followed, the phenomenon was reinforced by soil erosion. Indeed, the rain, in torrents on the rocks before ending up in the water, continued (and continues) providing different minerals that intervene in the salinity of the water such as sodium, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
2. How many grams of salt are in the water?
There is approximately 34.7 g of salt for a liter of water. All the oceans combined, this equals 49 billion tons of salt. If you are wondering, it is written 49,000,000,000,000,000 (15 zeros), in numbers. Its alot. Truly a lot.
3. How many grains of sand are there on Earth?
Rest assured, no one has tried the experiment of counting them one by one. Clearly, it’s something to completely finish maboul after 20 meters. However, the little geniuses lent themselves to the horrible game of mathematics, and made hypotheses based on obscure calculations that I do not understand at all. According to Howard C. McAllister, a professor of physics at the University of Hawaii, there are 7.5 trillion (7,500,000,000,000,000,000 grains of sand). For his part, Eric Chaumillon, a researcher at the University of La Rochelle (he is less of a dreamer than Hawaii), estimated their number at 200 billion billion (2 x 10 raised to 26). Well, finally… We’re not much further ahead, huh. (Font)
4. Also, why is there sand at the bottom of the water?
Once again, it’s all about erosion! Ocean water wets the rocks, which weaken and break into pebbles. These pebbles are dragged by the waves that break them again. One thing leads to another, the small pieces of broken and cracked rocks form the sand. The latter ends up at the bottom of the water, then washes up on the beach. CQFD. Other questions ? Yes ? We continue.
5. Why are pebbles sometimes used instead?
The composition of the beaches (more or less fine sand or pebbles) depends above all on the geological formation of the region. As we explained for sand: beaches are essentially the result of the erosion of surrounding rocks. In Normandy, for example, the rocks are made mainly of chalk enclosing pebbles of flint. When the chalk is eroded by rain, wind or the sea itself, it releases pebbles. And TADAAAAAM, those are the pebble beaches that really hurt your feet. (Font)
6. Why are there tides?
These water movements are caused by… The Moon. Yes Yes. This natural satellite of the Earth attracts these fleet extensions to itself with each of its passages. If the Sun is aligned with the Moon, the phenomenon is further reinforced and causes what are called “high tides” or “spring tides”. Since the Earth rotates on itself in 24 hours, the oceans do not always face the Moon. As it moves away from the star, the attraction decreases and the ocean returns to its initial position: the tide rises.
Contrary to what we usually believe, tides are not reserved for the oceans: they also exist for the seas. They are simply less noticeable, because the stretch of water is much lower and atmospheric conditions, such as headwinds, mitigate the phenomenon.
7. How are waves formed?
Waves result from the meeting of two elements: water and air, far from the coast, in the open sea, a low pressure system (low pressure regime) can form over the waters, which can bring bad weather. When it meets its opposite (the anticyclones), the wind blows between the two to balance the atmospheric pressure. In this way, the wind creates a wave, which then becomes a wave. (Font)
8. Why is the sea blue?
The light that the sun diffuses on Earth is white: it is made up of all the colors of the rainbow, with different wavelengths, covering the spectrum from infrared to ultraviolet. Upon meeting the water, the light decomposes. The red side of the light spectrum is absorbed, while the blue side is reflected. In this way, our eyes perceive green and blue radiation. The greater the number of “absorbing” molecules, the more this color is marked. Therefore, at a thin thickness such as a glass of water, the water appears transparent, while where the depth is significant, it appears dark blue and opaque.
9. And why is it sometimes lighter?
Several factors come into play: depth, first of all. The deeper the sea, the less light is reflected and the darker it appears to us. However, in some lagoons, even offshore, the water remains very clear, even turquoise. In fact, it is because the color of the background also influences the appearance of the water. Very light sand will give a lighter appearance to the sea. Finally, organic production also has a role to play. Where there are phytoplankton, there is chlorophyll. This absorbs the blue component and helps light shift towards green. (Font)
10. Why do people tan better in the sea than in the pool?
Because water and salt favor the reverberation of the sun. In fact, the salt contained in the water reflects sunlight better and thus constitutes a natural tanning accelerator. We will take this opportunity to point out that UV rays penetrate water up to 30 cm deep, and that it reflects between 10% and 30% of the sun’s rays.
11. Bonus: why is there always an asshole sticking his napkin to yours?
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