Waves and bubbles
Article 1 Module 1
Turbulent water and air
Liquid water is white at the interfaces of water and air when there is turbulence.
Wave crests, breaking waves, waterfalls, the wake of ships and boats, river whitewater, water splashes, and water jets are all examples of turbulent water/air interfaces.
Agitated water at the air interface encourages aeration of liquid water with air bubbles.
Here's what happens with agitation of water and air:
- Water dissolves some of the air
- The churning water creates air bubbles and air pockets
- The turbulent water generates water droplets that are held in place within air pockets.
In other words, churning water creates environments where air bubbles and water mix together.
The gasses within air (Nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide) do not absorb light.
Light gets refracted (bounced around) in the different interfaces between liquid and gas.
It is the disorganization of those interfaces - a mass of bubbles - that prevents light from making its way through.
Since none of the light is absorbed and some of it is reflected back to us; we see the mass of bubbles as white.