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Irving Langmuir

Time Front Cover 1958

black water treatment

Too much water, too little water, water too dirty.   That's the challenge water engineers face in South Africa.  And not just in South Africa.  The triangle of extremes is also applicable in the USA.  One engineer who did his bit was Irving Langmuir.  I am sure everyone knows about maritime Langmuir circulations. The presence of these circulations are revealed by the streaky patterns of foam or debris visible in the sea or a lake on a windy day.  The formation of these circulations is dependent on steady and sufficient wind velocity.  The circulations can be likened to sub-surface, long tubes running in the direction of the wind.  Each tube rotates in a direction opposite to its neighbour, thus creating clefts of upwelling and submersion currents at the tubular boundaries.

Langmuir circulation is an important mechanism for ingress of dissolved oxygen into a water body.

In the diagram below, the formation of Langmuir circulations is clearly visible

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