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Humidity

Humidity is the presence of water vapor in the atmosphere. This article explains the complete overview of humidity, its different types, and its effects.

What is humidity?

Humidity is the amount of water vapor present in the air. If a lot of water vapor is present in the air, the humidity is likely high. It is the atmosphere's most variable feature and is a significant factor in the environment and weather.

For various reasons, atmospheric water vapor is an important element in the atmosphere. It controls the air temperature by absorbing the thermal radiation from the Earth and the Sun. Also, the higher the atmosphere's vapor content, the more available latent energy is for storm generation. Moreover, the main cause of all types of condensation and precipitation is water vapor.

Water vapor reaches the atmosphere mainly by evaporating water from the Earth's surface, including seas. The atmosphere's water vapor content differs from place to place and time to time because the temperature defines the air's humidity capacity. At 30 °C (86 °F), for example, a volume of air will contain up to 4% water vapor, whereas, at -40 °C (-40 °F), it can only carry 0.2%.

Types of Humidity

There are mainly three types of humidity, which are as follows:

  1. Absolute Humidity
  2. Relative Humidity
  3. Specific Humidity

Absolute Humidity

It is the mass of water vapor, which is separated by the mass of dry air in a given volume of air at a certain temperature. It is represented as grams per cubic meter of air (g/m3) and moisture ppm. The maximum absolute humidity of humid water at 30°C/86°F is approximately 30g of water vapor -30g/m3. At 0°C/32°F, the mean absolute humidity of cold air is around 5g of water vapor -5g/m3.

Relative Humidity

The amount of water vapor in the air is referred to as relative humidity. It's a percentage of moisture that represents how much the air can hold. It is a variation of the air's actual moisture content, barometric pressure, and temperature. A higher percentage indicates a more humid air-water mixture. The relative humidity is a critical measure that is used as a predictor of the possibility of snow, dew, or fog in weather forecasts. In the summer, the relative humidity increases the human temperature by preventing the evaporation of perspiration from the temperature.

The relative humidity is used to detect the content of water vapor in the air. It is also the ratio between the amount of humidity in the air and the maximum humidity that the air can tolerate at the same temperature in a given temperature.

Relative Humidity = (Actual vapor density/saturation vapor density) * 100

Specific Humidity

It is defined as the mass of water vapor in a unit mass of moist air. It is expressed as grams of vapor per kilogram of air and in air conditioning as grains per pound. Specific humidity is an incredibly useful quantity for meteorology.

The specific humidity unit is the reliable unit used to measure the humidity. It measures the water vapor weight per air vapor weight. It is expressed as grams of water vapor per kilogram of air g.kg-1.

Effects of Humidity

There are various effects of humidity. Some of them are as follows:

Electronics

Electronic devices are designed to work under particular conditions of humidity. Moisture can increase the conduction of permeable insulators resulting in malfunction during high humid conditions. Low humidity leaves materials brittle. Condensation is a major danger to electronic products irrespective of the established humidity range. When an electronic object is moved from a cold place, say a workshop, to a moist place, such as a home, condensation coats electronic components or other insulators, short-circuit equipment. Low humidity encourages static electricity build-up, contributing to the shutdown of computers when the discharge occurs.

Asthma and allergy symptoms

If the humidity in the air is decreased to below-standard levels, our nasal passages can become drier. It can make allergy symptoms worse and make those allergies more prone to feeling pain, irritation, and even sinus infections can develop. On the other side, high humidity facilitates the production of mold, mildew, dust mites, and other allergens that can affect our well-being and health equally negatively. The air will also become harder to breathe, which can lead to an increased risk of an asthma attack and triggers for the condition's sufferers. Maintaining proper control of humidity will protect against creating such problems by ensuring that our nasal passages have enough moisture, which acts as a kind of buffer against allergic and asthmatic symptoms and promotes triggers.

Reduced Mental Stimulation

It can place exponentially more pressure on our bodies when relative humidity levels are imbalanced, forcing them to work harder to operate as they normally would. As a result, it may often be difficult to concentrate and stay mentally invested in poorly humidified environments.

Overheating and increased perspiration

Given that humidity is an atmosphere that does not influence the temperature, it can still persuade our bodies that temperatures are higher than they are. It's because, in conditions where the relative humidity levels are higher, moisture persists on our skin, allowing it to not dissipate just as quickly. Our bodies also cause us to sweat more in an attempt to overcome this sensation naturally. As a result, we feel sticky, even to the point of overheating, which could also lead to serious health issues like heat stroke and fatigue.


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