I think we've all experienced this effect. You turn on the shower and the stream of water at the shower head is a fair bit hotter than the water towards the bottom of the stream. Alternatively, if you splash water out of the bath (I'm a child I know) the water will feel cold if you touch it before it lands back in the bath.
I want to know for sure why this is.
The obvious answer seems to be simple thermodynamic heat exchange, but I would point out a few things for why I think this is not the whole story (although someone can argue otherwise):
- The time it takes for a drop of water to fall from the head of a shower to the ground is really quite a short amount of time.
- Given the short amount of time falling, I don't think heat exchange will happen fast enough to explain the fairly large temperature change.
- Given the fact that water has a large heat capacity, I think there must be something else in play here to provide enough energy.
- The temperature of a room with a hot shower running is not very different from the temperature of the water itself.
- It seems (and this is impossible to know without somehow measuring the temp) that the temp of falling water at the bottom of the stream sometimes is colder than the surrounding air (imagine we extend the stream to the bottom of a waterfall then that certainly seems to be true).
My thought for the major contributor to temperature change, and an explanation for how the water could even overshoot thermodynamic equilibrium, is that the water droplet/stream has to do a pretty large amount of work on the atmosphere before reaching the ground. I do not know how to model this mathematically, however, and would like to get a general idea of the amount of work being done in this situation.
Another interesting thing to think about, and I'm quite conflicted by this, is if one could expect the temperature of a water droplet to increase as it gains speed. For instance, suppose the water were falling in a vacuum and it maintained its droplet formation, would the temperature of the droplet increase? It seems to me it would, although the gravitational potential energy side of this thought is troubling. Is that effect large enough, however, to be relevant to this question?
So, to generalize the question:
What is a good mathematical and thermodynamic model for explaining the temperature change of falling water? Particularly, what is the largest contributor, heat exchange, or energy lost due to displacing the atmosphere? Also, does the gain in kinetic energy of the water droplet increase (in a non-net type of way) the temperature of the droplet as a whole? Also, all these explanations I assume would lead to what the final temperature of a water droplet might be after falling some distance, so getting an idea of how much temperature change there is would be cool too.