Environmental Protection Agency Narragansett Bay Commission University of Rhode Island Office of Marine Programs

Estuarine Science

Temperature

1. What is Water Temperature?
2. How do we measure Water Temperature?
3. What is the temperature of Narragansett Bay?
4. What can we learn about Narragansett Bay by measuring water temperature?


1. What is temperature?

Temperature is a measure of the hotness or coldness of the environment. If you add heat to water, like when you boil water to make spaghetti, the temperature of the water will rise. Temperature measures how much the molecules of a substance are moving. When the substance is hotter, the molecules move more.

Whether an object feels hot or cold when someone touches it depends on the environment. For example, in July, if it is 95°F outside and we go into an air-conditioned room that is 75°F, the room will feel cold. However, in January, if it is 32°F outside and we go into the same room at the same temperature (75°F), the room will feel warm. The room was 75°F in both cases. We feel hot or cold depending on the environment around us and our recent experiences.

Temperature is also a measure of the potential for heat transfer. When the temperature of an object is compared to the temperature of the air, the temperature difference between the object and the air will determine the direction of heat flow. In our example room above, we are hotter than the room in the summer and so heat flows from us to the room. In winter, the opposite occurs. Heat flows from the room to us. We can describe the direction of heat flow by measuring the temperature.

Temperature is measured as degrees on a standard scale, such as Fahrenheit or Celsius.

Why does the air warm faster than the water?


1. What is Water Temperature?
2. How do we measure Water Temperature?
3. What is the temperature of Narragansett Bay?
4. What can we learn about Narragansett Bay by measuring water temperature?

       


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