How could specific heat be potentially useful to a biological system or organism?

1 Answer
Feb 1, 2016

Specific heat of compounds such as water, can be potentially useful to a organism in order to survive and reproduce.


Importance of specific heat to a biological system:

  • Living organism can survive and reproduce only if their temperatures are maintained within a limited range.
  • For aquatic organisms the high heat capacity of water means that their environment maintains a much more stable temperature than on land.
  • This is also important, as water is such a large proportion of living things.

Thermal pollution:

  • Thermal pollution is the discharge into a river of quantities of hot water that are large enough to increase significantly the temperature of the water body. A 2-5 degree difference is considered significant.

Thermal pollution implications for life:

  • Less dissolved oxygen caused stress to organisms.
  • Fish eggs do not hatch in higher temperatures or the sudden change can kill fish eggs.
  • The increase in temperature can set off migration and spawning at wrong times during the year.
  • Increases metabolism, which requires more oxygen. This is a problem when there is less oxygen dissolved.