Water cycle unpacked

We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.
Jacques Yves Cousteau

Water cycle map


water cycle map


Water cycle generalization, standard, or outcome for Eart hscience

The cycling of water in and out of the atmosphere plays an important part in determining climatic patterns: evaporating from the surface, rising and cooling, condensing into clouds and then into snow or rain, and falling again to the surface, where it collects in rivers, lakes, and porous layers of rock. There are also large areas on the Earth's surface covered by thick ice (Antarctica), which interacts with the atmosphere and oceans in affecting worldwide variations in climate.

Fresh water is an essential resource for daily life and industrial processes. We obtain our water from rivers and lakes and from water that moves below the Earth's surface. This groundwater, which is a major source for many people, takes a long time to accumulate in the quantities now bring used. In some places it is being depleted at a very rapid rate. Moreover, many sources of fresh water cannot be used because they have been polluted.

Related concepts and vocabulary


Four spheres or round subsystems of the planet Earth


Investigaation ideas





Dr. Robert Sweetland's notes
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