This book investigates the billion-year takeover of planet Earth by its organisms and ecosystems. This chapter investigates the special importance of water for organisms and ecosystems, including key processes in their cells. It considers successively: the types of water at the Earth’s surface; the sources of the Earth’s water in the Solar System; the different abundances and histories of water on Earth, Venus and Mars; the physical and chemical properties of water, and the phases of water on Earth, Venus and Mars; and the characteristics of Earth that keep most of the Earth’s water in liquid form. The latter include the Earth’s mass and distance from the Sun, the storage and release of heat by the lower atmosphere, the fast rotation of the planet, and the small value of the axial tilt stabilized by the existence of the Earth-Moon system. The chapter also examines the presence of liquid water during the history of the planet, and describes the Earth’s water cycle. The early formation of a planet-wide ocean, in which atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) was rapidly trapped into solid calcium carbonate (CaCO3), largely determined the fate of Earth. Indeed, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 reached after the formation of the ocean contributed to create a greenhouse effect that has since maintained the temperature of the planet at a level compatible with the presence of liquid water. The chapter ends with a summary of key points concerning the interactions between the Solar System, Earth, water, and organisms.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Ball P (2001) Life’s matrix: a biography of water. University of California Press
Ball P (2017) Water is an active matrix of life for cell and molecular biology. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 114:13327–13335. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1703781114
Hand K (2020) Alien oceans: the search for life in the depths of space. Princeton University Press, Princeton
Hanslmeier A (2011) Water in the Universe. Astrophysics and Space Science Library, vol 368. Springer, Dordrecht
Kratz RF (2020) Molecular & cell biology for dummies, 2nd edn. Wiley, Hoboden, NJ
Lécuyer C (2013) Water on Earth: Physicochemical and biological properties. Wiley Online Library. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781118574928
Pinti DL, Arndt N (2015) Oceans, Origin of. In: Gargaud M et al (eds) Encyclopedia of astrobiology. Springer, Heidelberg and Berlin
Spellman FR (2020) The science of water, concepts and applications, 4th edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton
Taylor FW (2014) The scientific exploration of Venus. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge
Fig. 5.1 Original. Figure 5.1 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Philippe Bertrand, Louis Legendre and Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 5.2 Original. Figure 5.2 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Philippe Bertrand, Louis Legendre and Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 5.3 Modified after http://planet-terre.ens-lyon.fr/article/eau-glace-pression.xml. With permission from Prof. Olivier Dequincey, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France.
Fig. 5.4 This work, Fig. 5.4, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3D_model_hydrogen_bonds_in_water.svg by Qwerter at Czech wikipedia https://cs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedista:Qwerter, in the public domain. I, Mohamed Khamla, release this work in the public domain.
Fig. 5.5 Original. Values calculated using the equation given in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_pressure. Figure 5.5 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Philippe Bertrand, Louis Legendre and Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 5.6 Original. Figure 5.6 is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 by Philippe Bertrand, Louis Legendre and Mohamed Khamla.
Fig. 5.7 This work, Fig. 5.7, is a derivative of https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Watercyclesummary.jpg by John Evans and Howard Periman, USGS, in the public domain. I, Mohamed Khamla, release this work in the public domain.
Rights and permissions
© 2021 Springer Nature Switzerland AG
About this chapter
Cite this chapter
Bertrand, P., Legendre, L. (2021). Liquid Water: Connections with the Outer Reaches of the Solar System. In: Earth, Our Living Planet. The Frontiers Collection. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-67773-2_5
Publisher Name: Springer, Cham
Print ISBN: 978-3-030-67772-5
Online ISBN: 978-3-030-67773-2
eBook Packages: Earth and Environmental ScienceEarth and Environmental Science (R0)