All About The Water Cycle - How Does It Work?

The human body is composed of 70% water. An average human (weighs 132 lbs.) has 11 gallons of water in the body, and a negligible loss of 1.5 to 2 gallons of water can cause fatal dehydration. This reality alone indicates how vital water to the human body. Now you can picture out the number of works you do each day through the water you have in your body.

Even at an early age, people are known to dwell at places close to the wellspring of water since living far from it would likely cost the end of life. Apparently, it's a necessary and essential unit for the survival of life. Thus, water is the world’s valuable resources.

Key Facts:

  • About 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, and about 96.5 percent of the oceans hold of all Earth's water. Approximately 0.3 percent of freshwater is found in the surface water of rivers, lakes, streams, and swamps. Of all the water on Earth, more than 99 percent of Earth's water is unusable by humans and many other living things.
  • Water found at the Earth's surface can cycle quickly, however, the Earth's water lies in ice, seas, and underground reservoirs quite a bit; this water cycles gradually.
  • The water cycle is mind-boggling and includes state changes in water and also the physical development of water through and between ecosystems.
  • Groundwater is discovered underground between soil particles and in splits of rocks. Aquifers are groundwater reservoirs regularly tapped by wells.
  • All water in the world is subject to what is known as the water cycle, or the hydrologic cycle, or the H2O cycle. The hydrological process (water cycle) forms the basis of the existence of living beings, as they use it for drinking and hence, survival.

    Water does matter

     Water is never static, as it is extremely valuable for living beings. We are made of water, we are surrounded by it, and we consume and develop with it. Indeed, water is a necessity of life. In this way, you—like most land creatures—require a dependable supply of fresh water to survive.

    The composition of saline water on the Earth’s surfaces is approximately 96 percent in the oceans. This means that there is a little supply of fresh water that can sustain the ecosystem and life as a whole.  Thus, the insufficient or perhaps the absence of water can seriously affect the ecosystem.

    Humankind has established a few advances to expand water accessibility. These include drilling wells to get at groundwater, gathering rainwater, and utilizing purification—salt removal—to get freshwater from the sea. Yet, clean and safe drinking water is not generally accessible in many parts of the world today.

    The vast majority of the water on Earth does not cycle—move to start with one place then onto the next—quickly. Water in seas, underground, and in the form of ice tends to cycle gradually. Only surface water cycles quickly. The latter leads to acute water shortage and the inadequacy of safe drinking water.

    Overview of The Water Cycle

     Water plays a wide range of aspects on the Earth. Some are at the shafts in ice caps, and some are in the snow and glaciers at the highest points of mountains. There are some in lakes and streams, and others in the underground. Some are a vapor in the air. Yet, a large portion of the water on Earth is in the seas. Run and get a glass of water and put it on the table beside you. Investigate the water. Would you be able to think about how old it is?

    At the point when the Brontosaurus strolled through lakes devouring on plants, your glass of water was some dewdrops of those lakes. The same thing when the rulers and princesses, knights, and squires of a kingdom took a drink from their wells. Earth has a definite amount of water. That water continues going around and around. Indeed water is always on the move.

    The sun's energy drives the water cycle. It warms the sea surface and other surface water, making fluid water evaporate and ice to sublime—turn specifically from solid to gas. These sun-driven procedures move water into the atmosphere in the structure of water vapor.

    The water cycle describes how water is cycled (exchanged) through Earth's ocean, atmosphere, and land. Water always exists in all of these three places, and many forms such as lakes and rivers, glaciers and ice sheets, oceans and seas, underground aquifers, and vapor in the air and clouds.

     How Does a Water Molecule Journey?

     The water cycle has no starting point nor ending point. Evaporates from the surface of the earth, rises into the atmosphere, cools and condenses into rain or snow in clouds, and falls again to the surface. When this manifestation develops, the water cycle takes place.

    The water cycle, termed as the hydrologic cycle, defines the main core mechanisms of Earth’s hydrosphere. This includes all the water in, on, and around the Earth. The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere is a significant aspect of the weather patterns on Earth. Potentially, the water cycle phases encompass how water changes from liquid to water, to solid, how it moves on the planet, and all the places it spends time along the way.

    The sun's potential heats water in the oceans, which drives the water cycle. Some of it evaporates as vapor into the air; a relatively smaller amount of moisture is added as ice and snow transfer directly into vapor. Increasing air currents take the vapor into the atmosphere, which is water transpired from plants and evaporated from the soil. The vapor rises into the air, where cooler temperatures cause it to condense into clouds.

    The Phases of Water Cycle

    The water cycle describes the endless movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the earth. It is also referred to as the Hydrological Cycle. The cycle describes the properties of water that make it undergo the various movements on the planet.

    Water goes through three different stages in the water cycle. It can be a liquid (water), a gas (water vapor) or a solid (ice). These three states are interchangeable, as water can freeze into ice or evaporate into water vapor, water vapor can condense as water, and ice can melt into water.

    The water cycle consists of a number of phases which sees the water go through each of these states.

    Evaporation 

    Evaporation is the process of liquid water's (ocean, lakes, or rivers) surface changing to a gas (becomes water vapor). Water vapor surrounds us; as an important part of the air, we breathe. Water vapor is also an important greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gases such as water vapor and carbon dioxide insulate the Earth and keep the planet warm enough to maintain life as we know it.

    The water cycle's evaporation process is driven by the sun. As the sun interacts with liquid water on the surface of the ocean, the water becomes an invisible gas (water vapor). Evaporation is also influenced by wind, temperature, and the density of the body of water.

    How important is it?

    Evaporation is a vital piece of the water cycle. The heat from the sun, or solar energy, control the evaporation process. It absorbs moisture from the soil in a garden, and additionally, the greatest seas and lakes. The water level will decline as it is bare to the heat of the sun.

    Factors that Affect Evaporation

    Some liquids evaporate more rapidly than others. Many factors influence the evaporation rate.

    • If the air is already congested, or saturate, with different substances, there won’t be sufficient room noticeable all around for liquid to evaporate rapidly. At the point when the humidity is 100 percent, the air is saturated with water. No more water can evaporate.
    • Air pressure likewise influences evaporation. Whenever the air pressure is high on the surface of a waterway, at that point, the water won't evaporate efficiently. The pressure pushing down on the water makes it hard for water to escape into the air as vapor. Storms are regularly high-pressure systems that avoid evaporation.
    • Temperature, obviously, influences how rapidly evaporation happens. Boiling heated water will evaporate rapidly as steam.

      Do plants sweat?

      All things considered, sort of... People perspire (sweat), and plants transpire. Transpiration is the process by which plants lose water out of their leaves. Transpiration provides evaporation somewhat of a turn in recovering the water vapor up into the air.

      Plant transpiration is an undetectable process since the water is evaporating from the leaf surfaces. You don't simply go out and see the leaves "sweating." Because you can't see the water doesn't mean it isn't being put into the air. Amid a growing season, a leaf will unfold ordinarily more water than its own particular weight. A section of land of corn emits around 3,000-4,000 gallons (11,400-15,100 liters) of water every day, and a vast oak tree can happen 40,000 gallons (151,000 liters) every year.

      Transpiration

      Transpiration is another important part of the water cycle where the water vapor is being released from plants and soil. It normally takes place during the day, giving off water vapor from the leaves openings. This process is important in the water cycle because plants absorb moisture from the soil and release it into the atmosphere as water vapor.

      Plants release water vapor through microscopic pores called stomata. The opening of stomata is strongly influenced by light, and so is often associated with the sun and the process of evaporation. Evapotranspiration is the combined components of evaporation and transpiration and is sometimes used to evaluate the movement of water in the atmosphere.

      Sublimation

      Sublimation describes the process of snow and ice changing into water vapor without first melting into water. It is a common way for snow to disappear in certain climates. One way to look at the results of sublimation is to hang a wet shirt outside on a below-freezing day. Eventually, the ice in the shirt will disappear.

      The best way to visualize sublimation is not to use water at all, but to use carbon dioxide instead, as this picture shows."Dry ice" is solid, frozen carbon dioxide, which sublimates, or turns to gas, at the temperature -78.5 °C (-109.3°F). The fog you see in the picture is a mixture of cold carbon dioxide gas and cold, humid air, created as the dry ice sublimates.

      Sublimation occurs more readily when certain weather conditions are present, such as low relative humidity and dry winds. It also occurs more at higher altitudes, where the air pressure is less than at lower elevations.

      Energy, such as strong sunlight, is also needed. Low temperatures, strong winds, intense sunlight, very low air pressure - just what is needed for sublimation to occur.

      Condensation

       When water vapor in the air gets cold and changes once more into the liquid, shaping mists or clouds, condensation transpires.

      You can see a similar kind of thing at home. Set out a glass of cold water on a hot day and observe what happens. Water forms outside of the glass. That water didn't go some way or another spill through the glass! It originated from the air. Water vapor in the warm air transforms once more into the liquid when it touches the cold glass.

      Condensation is the process when gas is changing into a liquid. In the water cycle, water vapor in the atmosphere condenses and becomes liquid. This process occurs in the atmosphere or at ground level. Clouds form as water vapor condenses, or becomes more concentrated (dense). Then, water vapor condenses around tiny particles called cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). CCN can be specks of dust, salt, or pollutants.

      Like evaporation, condensation is also driven by the sun. As the water vapor cools, it reaches its maximum saturation point. Air pressure is also a significant impact on the dew point of an area.

      How important is it?

      Condensation is essential to the water cycle since it is in charge of the development of clouds. These clouds may deliver precipitation that will be tackled later, which is the essential course for water to come back to the Earth's surface inside the water cycle. Thus, the condensation phase is the exact opposite of evaporation.

      Clouds form when water vapor condenses around little particles, similar to bits of dust or smoke noticeable all around. Relying upon the amount of the drops, these particles might possibly be noticeable. Even on a clear, cloudless day, water vapor is constantly present in the environment, yet it varies in numbers. We know it is visible on an extremely humid day; it frequently feels like we have to swim through the air! Fog is condensation close to the ground.

      Causes of Condensation

      Like evaporation, condensation happens like a major aspect of the water cycle. Water molecules that have moved upward through evaporation, in the end, meet the cooler air at more elevated amounts of the climate. Water vapor in the warm, moist air condenses, shaping bigger beads of water that will inevitably be noticeable as clouds.

       The reason is the adjustment in temperature. The cooler air can't keep water particles isolated, so they join again to form droplets. Condensation is happening regardless of the possibility that clouds are not visible. As more water vapor condenses, clouds normally start to shape. Precipitation takes after, and the water cycle starts once more.

       Precipitation

      Precipitation happens when so much water has condensed that the air can't hold it any longer.  The clouds get substantial, and water falls back to the earth in the form of rain, hail, sleet, snow, or freezing rain. Hence, precipitation is one of many ways water is cycled from the atmosphere to the Earth or ocean.

      Clouds are necessary for precipitation because the raindrops are the drops of the clouds that have sufficiently condensed water to start falling. The cloud particles don't have enough mass to fall, however as condensation keeps on adding water to those particles, gravity, in the long run, pulls them towards the Earth as precipitation.

      Around 505,000 km3 (121,000 cu mi) of water falls as precipitation every year, 398,000 km3 (95,000 cu mi) of it over the oceans. The rain on land contains 107,000 km3 (26,000 cu mi) of water every year and a snowing just 1,000 km3 (240 cu mi)

       How important is it?

      Precipitation is expected to recharge water to the earth. Without precipitation, this planet would likely be a huge desert. The number and span of precipitation occurrence influence both water level and water quality inside an inlet.

      It supplies fresh water to an estuary, which is an imperative wellspring of dissolved oxygen and supplements. Droughts bring down the freshwater contribution to estuaries and the water levels of inland lakes. Lake levels impact water waste and flow patterns in freshwater estuaries.

      How is Precipitation Measured?

      Precipitation is generally described in millimeters or inches of liquid precipitation. This number is generally included over a specific timeframe, for example, inches every day.

      Factors that Affect Precipitation

      Massive precipitation happens close to the equator and reduces with the expansion in the latitude like towards Polar Regions. A primary source of moisture for precipitation is evaporation from seas. Hence, precipitation tends to be heavier close to coastlines.

      Since the lifting of air masses is the reason for all precipitation, the amount and recurrence of rain are generally more on the windward side of the mountain. As a downslope movement of air brings about a reduction in humidity, in this manner, the inverse sides of barriers commonly experience moderately light precipitation. A high amount of precipitation is accounted for at higher elevations.

      •  Prevailing Winds- winds move moist air over land
      • Presents of mountains- mountain range can change the path of prevailing winds and impact where precipitation falls
      • Seasons- sea and land breezes that change directions with the season; is known as monsoon

      Interception

       Interception is where the water movement is interrupted in the various paths during transportation events over the land surface. This process takes place when the water is absorbed by vegetation cover and trees, absorbed into the ground, or stored in puddles and land formations such as furrows and streamlets. These waters can either infiltrate into the soil or return to the atmosphere through evapotranspiration or evaporation.

      The most important role of this process in the water cycle is as a rainfall reducer. It causes a significant amount of rainfall to be directly fed back to the atmosphere, which is not available for infiltration. Also, interception influences the spatial distribution of infiltration. Thus, the role of interception in the hydrological cycle is crucial.

      Infiltration

      Anywhere in the world, a portion of the water that falls as rain and snow infiltrates into the subsurface soil and rock. How much infiltrates depends greatly on many factors?  The infiltration of precipitation falling on the ice cap of Greenland might be very small.

      Infiltration is the downward movement of water from the land surface into the soil or porous rock. Some water that infiltrates will remain in the shallow soil layer, where it will gradually move vertically and horizontally through the soil and subsurface material. Eventually, it might enter a stream by seepage into the stream bank. Some of the water may infiltrate deeper, recharging groundwater aquifers.

      If the aquifers are shallow or porous enough to allow water to move freely through it, people can drill wells into the aquifer and use the water for their purposes. Water may travel long distances or remain in groundwater storage for long periods before returning to the surface or seeping into other water bodies, such as streams and the oceans.

      In places where the water table (the top of the saturated zone) is close to the land surface and where the water can move through the aquifer at a high rate, aquifers can be replenished artificially.

      Collection

      At the point when water falls back to earth as precipitation, it might fall back in the seas, lakes, or rivers, or it might wind up ashore. When it winds up ashore, it will either splash into the earth or turn out to be a piece of the "groundwater" that plants and creatures use to drink or it might keep running over the dirt and gather in the seas, lakes or streams where the cycle starts from the very beginning once more.

      The Water Cycle and the Climate

      The water cycle has an intense impact on Earth's climate and ecosystems. Climate is all the weather conditions of an area, evaluated over a period of time. Humidity and temperature are the two factors that contribute to climate due to the water cycle.

      Humidity is considered as the amount of water vapor in the air. When water vapor is not evenly distributed by the water cycle, there are regions that experience higher humidity than others. This occurrence adds to completely different climates.

      A region's temperature also relies on the water cycle. Through the water cycle, heat is exchanged, and temperatures change. For instance, when water evaporates, it absorbs energy and cools the local environment. Consequently, when water condenses, it releases energy and warms the local environment.

      How Humans Affect the WATER CYCLE?

      Water definitely is one of the most valuable resources on Earth. With water making up at least 80 percent of living matter, the more we develop our land and increase infrastructure, the bigger the effect towards humankind is on the water cycle.

      As the population grows, the higher living standards become. People have manipulated the water and contaminated the little supply we have, and the more drastic the water shortages will happen.  Additionally, the increased use of toxic chemicals in the agriculture, automotive, and manufacturing industries, as well as the runoff from chemical fertilizers and pesticides, is the main factor that pollutes surface water and ground soil, making production growth impossible.

      Here are a few of the prevailing issues that disrupt the water cycle:

      Urbanization - This happens when the natural water cycle cannot function properly in urban areas due to buildings, concrete, and other surfaces that are preventing the water from reaching the ground, allowing it to soak into the soil. Keeping trees, plants, and grass healthy also starts to decrease, as low soil moisture impedes the healthy growth of plants.

       

      Deforestation - This occurs when clearing all or removing specific trees from forest land. Deforestation happens when builders turn this land into non-forest use. When we remove trees from forests that have been growing for years, it reduces evapotranspiration, which is the sum of evaporation and plant transpiration from land and ocean surface to the atmosphere.

      Irrigation

      As the human population has increased, it means that the demands on the land rise. People need more food, and to make food, and of course, water. Irrigation is the artificial watering of land that does not get enough water through rainfall. Irrigation is used substantially by most countries.   

      The problem with irrigation is that it removes water from its natural source and often causes leaching and run-off where it is used. This removal of nutrients results in farmers using more fertilizers to keep their grasslands productive while the waterways become contaminated.

      Other Human Activities that Change the Water Cycle Include:

      • Agriculture
      • Industry
      • Alteration of the chemical composition of the atmosphere
      • Construction of dams
      • Afforestation
      • Removal of groundwater from wells
      • Water abstraction from a river
      • Effects on climate

      The water cycle is an infinite process of water circulation going on across the world and throughout life.  Little water has been added or lost through the ages. The water cycle prevails in all places and at all times, and the humankind relies so much on this precious resource that sustains life. 

      Water Cycle and Climate Change: The Four Big Questions Answered

      For over billions of years, the Earth has become the home and the witness of the birth, evolution, and extinction of countless species. Varying from microorganisms to birds, plants, and mammals, it is the very core of their biodiversity.

      It was only 2.5 million years ago when humans began to inhabit the planet. Since then, they have dominated both the Earth and the other organisms. This is because they are the only species that have a highly developed brain, which results in their ability to be able to speak and have abstract reasoning.

      The humans have learned to use the commodities in the environment. Through this, they have industrialized, revolutionized, and modernized. But every upgrade of their life becomes every downgrade of the abode. 

      Since industrialization, the carbon footprint also increased through time. Due to modernization in the industry and population growth, carbon emissions increased, causing pollution to the air and intensity in temperature. If these discharges don’t reduce, then the said gas would rise into the atmosphere making the ozone thin. Eventually, this will push climate change to happen.   

      Climate change is a phenomenon where the temperature increases due to the burning of fossil fuels, as described by global warming. This affects the weather changes, photosynthesis of the plants, and the water cycle. In addition, this is caused by human activities such as the burning of the plastics and smokes coming from cars, cigarettes, and other machinery. Due to this, biodiversity could be damage, and as well as the condition of the Earth could be lethal.

      To know more about how climate change affects the natural cycle of the water, here are some questions answered:

      1. Why does Climate Change increase rainfall?

      Studies have concluded that 60% of the snow and rain came from the moisture that originated from the oceans. Meanwhile, 40% of it came from the continents. These two sources were said to feed the precipitation happening in the water cycle. An example of it is China. It gets most of its snow and rain from the waters evaporated over Eurasia. 

      As the temperature increases, the rate of water evaporating also increases. Similar to what happens when boiling water in a pot: the intense the temperature is, the faster the boiling water evaporates.

      Also, this phenomenon affects the intensity of the rain and snow on the planet. When the world is too warm, then the atmosphere could hold more moisture. Thus, when the time comes, it would then release that right amount of moisture it gathered.

      1. So more precipitation is falling in heavy events. Then how is climate change bringing about more droughts?

      As the rate of evaporation increases due to intense temperature, the soil dries out. This results in a violent downpour of the rain, which would make the topmost layer of the soil to run off. The worst part is it could cause disastrous flooding and even landslides.

      And as this happening remains the same, then the soil would be unhealthy. This is because the soil would be dry for most seasons, causing drought, or it would be washed away by the rain.

      In addition to that, climate change could alter weather patterns. For example, some areas that expect a constant amount of rain would either be experiencing intense and unpredictable precipitations or little to no rain at all. Moreover, due to temperature increase, the glaciers and snowpack are slowly melting, causing the waters in the oceans to rise.    

      1. Speaking of extreme weather, what does climate change have to do with hurricanes and typhoons?

      Storms, hurricanes, and typhoons become rapid because they absorb more energy from the warmer oceans. Since they are formed from the said waters, they have a strong center of circulation, and they feed on the heat energy coming from the ocean.

      Due to that, they bring more damaging winds, extreme rainfalls, and higher storm surges on the shore. This causes damage and even loss to coastal life.

      For over the last years since 1970, the damage caused by the said disasters has increased by about 10%. And this is expected to get stronger in the future because of climate change. If the activities of the humans will continue, then the said phenomenon will be more likely to happen sooner than later. 

      1. What does that have to do with wildfires?

      Now that the precipitation is unpredictable, the drought would always be around the corner. And because of that, wildfire would likely happen, drying out the land, killing the plant life, and making the area a tinderbox.

      Since 1970, the frequency of wildfire in the western U.S. has increased by 40%. Places such as Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California have experienced damaging wildfires leaving the government and communities with millions of dollars in expense due to the damages. Moreover, hundreds of plants, animals, and human lives have been lost.

      Honestly, it is expected for the disasters to happen. It is a natural phenomenon occurring here on the planet. But because of the unguarded human activities, specifically the burning of fossil fuels, the atmospheric temperature increased, causing a devastating impact on the water cycle.

      Climate change is real, and it is happening. It is now in the hands of the humans the faith of the planet. If the word and the news were spread about this change, then maybe it would be possible to stop the damages and save the Earth.

      Some scientists have already discovered alternatives and cleaner-energy solutions to lessen carbon emissions. If this would be implemented, then the burden on the oceans, communities on the coast, and areas that are prone to drought would be at ease because the disasters coming to them would not be as devastating as it is happening now.

      Therefore, as much as possible, people must try to change their lifestyle and look for a better and cleaner way so that it would no longer give further damage to the Earth. Moreover, they must try to educate other people and help them acknowledge the changes happening now. If the people would just open their eyes and minds to reality, then saving the planet will surely be possible.

      Learn more about the water cycle by clicking on the links below:

      Summary of the Water Cycle

      Water Cycle Facts

      The Water Cycle

      Learn About Water Cycle: Where Does Water Go?

      Fun Water Cycle Facts for Kids

      A Summary of the Hydrologic Cycle

      Earth's Water Cycle

      The Water Cycle

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