Water’s High Heat Capacity

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OpenStax Biology 2e

Water’s high heat capacity is a property that hydrogen bonding among water molecules causes. Water has the highest specific heat capacity of any liquids. We define specific heat as the amount of heat one gram of a substance must absorb or lose to change its temperature by one degree Celsius. For water, this amount is one calorie. It therefore takes water a long time to heat and a long time to cool. In fact, water’s specific heat capacity is about five times more than that of sand. This explains why the land cools faster than the sea. Due to its high heat capacity, warm blooded animals use water to more evenly disperse heat in their bodies: it acts in a similar manner to a car’s cooling system, transporting heat from warm places to cool places, causing the body to maintain a more even temperature.

– What term refers to the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules)?

– Does sand cools faster than water?


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/biology-2e