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I review the capabilities of Hα observations to constrain some aspects of the current models of the interstellar medium. In particular, it is shown that turbulence is a necessary ingredient of any viable model, since most of the energy produced by supernova explosions and ionising radiation is stored in kinetic form in the ISM. Various forms of turbulent energy dissipation, including cloud collisions, are analysed. Two additional aspects, concerning the existence of galactic fountains and theirdoi:10.1071/as98019 fatcat:jj5ckq2qwzde5nozzvxesfqqte