What speed does the water fall at?

by john

What speed does the water fall at?

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Jan 30, 2014
Water from great heights.
by: Steve Waclo

I believe I first started paying attention to water falling from very great heights several years ago on a sunny spring day at the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. The weather was gorgeous and we subsequently hiked to the top of the Upper Falls, but that moment was a marvelous opportunity to lay back and watch the falling water.

The spectacle was one that began at the top of the falls, as a steady stream, but then, as speed of the fall increased, resulted in the water disintegrating into a thinning spray that slowed the descent and surface tension pulled the water into a "packet". The packet, in a denser shape, would then drop faster than surrounding streams until it reached a terminal velocity and seemed to explode into another spray, and the process repeated.

This is the best I call recall the process and I may have confused some details. Essentially however, water falling from great heights is a symphony of change and dynamism. In fact, I wrote an email to producers of the excellent movie "Up" chastising them for not getting the featured waterfall right. Never heard back...

Mar 03, 2012
Gravity times height
by: World of Waterfalls


Actually, gravity accelerates objects that are falling. So 32ft/s^2 or 9.8m/s^2 isn't really the speed (unless it fell frictionless for 1s in which the speed would be 32ft/s or 9.8m/s assuming the object began falling from a non-moving state - something that's rare in a stream).

I'd say the taller the waterfall, the greater the speed the objects (in this case droplets) are falling. I'm sure it hits a point where resistance cancels a good deal of the acceleration resulting in a terminal speed or velocity.

Maybe even the water chunks break apart into smaller droplets which are even more prone to resistance and eventually "disappear" as mist.

To make a long story short, it really depends on the height, slope, and volume of the falls. And even if we picked on a particular waterfall, I'm not quite sure how you'd measure it.

Mar 03, 2012
Speed of Gravity
by: Ben

All falling objects fall at 32 ft/sec^2 (9.8m/sec^2). It is the rate of gravity. It might depend on the air resistance, but that would only have a minimal effect.

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