Oxygen Transfer at the Air-Water Interface

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This review paper is primarily concerned with the mechanics of oxygen absorption across the free surface of natural bodies of water. A summary is given of basic concepts related to the solution of oxygen in water, to the rate at which oxygen is absorbed by water, and to the manner in which turbulence in the water influences the absorption or reaeration process, A review is given of some of the analytical models which have been proposed, and some of the empirical relationships which have been derived, for representing the reaeration process. References are cited for several critical reviews of various expressions which have been proposed in the literature for relating the oxygen transfer coefficient, KL, to hydraulic conditions and to fluid properties for flow in streams. These critical reviews indicate that there are significant differences between the prediction equations. Some of these differences apparently result from the fact that all of the variables which have a significant effect on KL have sometimes not been considered in developing the prediction equations. Some of the potentially significant aspects which have not always been given adequate consideration are the boundary layer nature of the surface film and the influence of suspended sediment and wind on reaeration. The available laboratory and field data are presented for the effects of wind speed on KL for both streams and larger bodies of water with small velocities. There is good agreement among the various sets of laboratory data, but there are significant differences between the laboratory data and the space field data on wind effects on KL.