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Water is important and special because it takes part in almost all of the processes that form and shape the Earth. Water is also essential to life. Without water, life—in all its many forms — would not be possible. The study of water science helps toward understanding how and why water plays such an important role.
Water also unites and divides us. Water is the subject of numerous treaties, laws, and agreements between nations, states, and communities. However, because water is an increasingly important and scarce resource, there are often complex legal and political issues surrounding the use of water. Many wars and court cases have arisen over who owns a body of water, who has a right to use it, or how water should be divided and used among those who claim it. To assure an adequate supply of water to meet broad needs of humans around the world, the development of scientifically sound strategies for sustainable water development are critical.
In many cases, disputes over water are related to preserving the quality of waters that nourish and protect both human and natural communities. To better understand these issues, one also needs to know the essentials of water science.
U•X•L Encyclopedia of Water Science takes an international perspective in exploring water science and water issues. The encyclopedia features more than one hundred entries in three volumes, with each volume broken into separate chapters:
Volume 1 (Science): Basics of water science; Oceans and saltwater; Fresh water; Estuaries and wetlands; Ice; Water, weather, and climates
Volume 2 (Economics and Uses): Science and technology; Science and research; Economic uses of water; Recreational uses of water; History and culture
Volume 3 (Issues): Environmental issues; Legal and political issues