Know Water.

first_imgTrees Surrounded by Water They Can’t Use We talk about water, drink water, flush water, spray waterand use water every imaginable way. But what is this stuff?Pure water clear, with no color, taste or odor. It tends tobind closely to itself or bead up. Its properties make it bothunusual chemically and critical biologically.Every school child can recite water’s chemical formula, H2O,which means a single water molecule is composed of three atomsbound together.Two of the three are small hydrogens, each with a single negativelycharged electron shell surrounding a positively charged protoncenter.The third atom is a massive oxygen, which can partially captureand hold the two negatively charged electrons away from the twohydrogens. Oxygen grabs and hordes electrons while still sharingthem a little.Here’s the neat part. The loss of a negative electron shellleaves the positive proton partially exposed on each hydrogen.And the almost continual holding of the two negatively chargedelectrons adds a greater negative charge to the oxygen atom.Water: It’s MagneticThat’s important. The oxygen molecule’s ability to steal electronsfrom its hydrogen partners generates a partial charge separationwithin the molecule. So the water molecule has a positive endand a negative end, like a magnet.Since positive charges stick to negative charges, water moleculeslink together. This unique linkage process, found in few otherelements, allows water to have many valuable special attributesessential for life.Because of this linkage between water molecules, water is slowedfrom evaporation, it’s able to dissolve many things and it floatswhen frozen.And because each water molecule tends to stick closely to itsneighbor, if one is pulled, others will follow. That special bondallows water to be pulled from the soil to the top of trees 300feet tall.Neat, huh?When it comes to managing trees, water is both the problemand the solution. It’s critical to understand it if we’re to effectivelymanage our trees and their water resources.(For more information on water, what it is and how it worksin trees, visit the University of Georgia School of Forest ResourcesWeb site at www.forestry.uga.edu/warnell/service/library.Click on “Service & Outreach,” then “InformationLibrary,” then “Drought Information.”)last_img

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