Answer to Question #58998 in General Chemistry for carmen braithwaite

Question #58998
Islands tend to have more stable climates with smaller temperature fluctuations compared to areas of the same mass which are surrounds by land. Apply your understanding of heat energy, specific heat, and heat transfer to explain these facts.
Expert's answer
Specific heat of water is 4,184. Virtually all common land based elements have specific heats of less than 1,000. This means that water takes a lot more energy to heat up and cool down than say, a sheet of copper.
Because of this great energy requirement, water retains heat much longer than other substances (this is greatly attributed to its molecular structure). While the sun may beat down on a patch of earth, it will raise in temperature fairly quickly. When the sun shines down on land surrounded by water however, the water absorbs the heat, but because it has such a high specific heat, the temperature increase is much less than that of just the plot of earth.
The water surrounds the land which means it diffuses (or absorbs) heat energy from gradients of higher to lower concentration in order to equalize the energy. However, because of the sun, clouds, rotation of the earth, and many other factors, this equilibrium is impossible except in small scale controlled experiments.

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