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From my understanding, humid weather means that the air has a lot of water in it. Therefore, someone who lives in this kind of weather would be hydrating himself just by breathing.

Does that mean that, to stay hydrated, one needs to drink less water in humid weather than in dry weather?

Of couse, I know that humid weathers are usually hotter, which accelerates dehydration. But in this case, let's assume the temperature is independent of the humidity of the air.

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    $\begingroup$ I think it depends. At least from personal experience, I seem to need more water in dry cold than humid. And in hot, humid weather, I seem to lose more water by sweating simply because the humidity makes the cooling process less efficient than it would be in dry air at the same temperature. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jun 13 '15 at 17:16
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf You seem to lose more water in moist weather but actually you lose more in dry weather. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 14 '15 at 12:11
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You don't get hydrated by breathing moist air. That may at best hydrate your respiratory tract. You should drink more water in dry weather because the body gets dehydrated more.

Humid weather is not hotter, it just feels more uncomfortable. But dry heat is actually more harmful, because it dehydrates you (not in the sense of extreme heat).

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    $\begingroup$ It all sounds plausible, but do you have references to back this up? Particularly, when I am hiking in humid Florida or Maryland I drink many liters of water a day. The thing is that sweat doesn't evaporate and it seems the body is simply only heating up. In dry heat, however, sweating is way more efficient as evaporative cooling is always more efficient in dry climates, such as in most parts of Australia. When I hike in Australia, I do not particularly drink more, on the contrary even, in similar temperatures. Anecdotal stuff, but still something to contemplate about, perhaps. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Jun 14 '15 at 11:50
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD I didn't see any reference. I'll look up; I am not sure if there is actually some review on this. At very high temperatures moist heat would be more damaging (because of specific heat of water) but drinking water per se just hydrates your body. I don't think it has a direct role in bringing down temperature unless of course you are drinking cold water. This is all based on the physics of it. I'll look for a reference. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 14 '15 at 12:09
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    $\begingroup$ Not referenced, but MIT indicates it is unclear which climate makes you sweat more, engineering.mit.edu/ask/why-do-we-sweat-more-high-humidity $\endgroup$ – AliceD Jun 14 '15 at 21:02
  • $\begingroup$ @AliceD You do apparently sweat more in humid climate because the water doesn't get evaporated. Dehydration is more in dry clmate. $\endgroup$ – WYSIWYG Jun 15 '15 at 4:08
  • $\begingroup$ Yes exactly my point: perspiring equals dehydration. The question then becomes, due to the inefficiency of perspiring in humid envrionments whether you perspire more in humidity, or whether it only seems so because it won't evaporate. $\endgroup$ – AliceD Jun 15 '15 at 4:11
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First of all, we sweat as a method of normalizing/reducing our body temperature caused by the situ temperature, outside of our bodies. This mechanism, is primarily completed with thanks to the Eccrine sweat glands - those that cover the greatest majority of the body and hence, are the most essential in this context.

Sweating is classed as 'evaporative heat loss' so, the correct conditions have to apply in order for the mechanism to effectively occur.

Humidity: The common perception is that we sweat less in hot and humid conditions since, "the sweat just sits there", inferring that we are perspiring at a slower rate. However, it's the complete opposite. This is because, in the stated environmental conditions, the ambient water vapor pressure is greater and resultantly, the body needs to increase the area effected by perspiration -- the sweat rate increases -- thus to match the same effect that you'd experience in hot, dry conditions. The affinity for the evaporation product to attach to molecules in the air is less due, to there being more water molecules already present in the air. It's a bit like how water in cells moves from areas of high potential to low water potential.

Dry: The body can more efficiently cool itself in this environment. This is due to fact that dry air has a greater affinity for water molecules so, the sweat will evaporate quicker. Additionally, this has a knock-on affect on salivary glands and furtherly, the humidity of your essential respiratory organ, the lungs - causing dryness. This is very prevalent when breathing heavily e.g. in exercise.

This is very similar to hygroscopy.

To conclude, you need to drink more water in hot, humid environment than the contrary.

If my answer is too "generalized"; i apologize.

Citations:

  • Eccrine sweating

  • Jay Hoffman in Physiological Aspects of Sport Training and Performance

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