I have read a long time ago of early experiments in the evaporation rate of surface water, and a discovery that in addition to the Sun's impact on the temperature of the water, it was believed that sunlight led to a direct component of evaporation; water molecules liberated from the surface by photons in a non thermal, or at least non-equilibrium process.

But I can't find any reference to it now.

Does such an effect exist, and would evaporation due to local interactions of individual photons of sunlight contribute significantly to the evaporation rate of water at for example standard conditions?

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    $\begingroup$ Yes, photon-stimulated desorption of ice does occur. Most studies are about space conditions (vacuum, very low temperatures). $\endgroup$ – user137289 Feb 26 at 23:52

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