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Water cycle

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The '''water cycle''' (or hydrologic cycle) describes the cyclic movement of water as molecules make their way from the Earth's surface to the atmosphere, and back again. This gigantic system, powered by energy from the sun, is a continuous exchange of moisture between the oceans, the atmosphere, and the land.<ref name=NASA>[http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Water/water_2.php The Water Cycle] by U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.</ref> Updated: July 24, 2010.
The '''water cycle''' (or hydrologic cycle) describes the cyclic movement of water as molecules make their way from the Earth's surface to the atmosphere, and back again. This gigantic system, powered by energy from the sun, is a continuous exchange of moisture between the oceans, the atmosphere, and the land.<ref name=NASA>[http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/Water/water_2.php The Water Cycle] by U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.</ref> Updated: July 24, 2010.
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== Stages ==
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The sun drives the water cycle as it heats water in the oceans. Some of it evaporates as vapor into the air. Ice and snow can sublimate directly into water vapor. Rising air currents take the vapor up into the atmosphere, along with water from evapotranspiration, 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.<ref name=usgs>[http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesummary.html Summary of the Water Cycle] U.S. Geological Survey. Updated Apr 142010</ref>
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<ref>[http://ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/watercyclesummary.html Summary of the Water Cycle] U.S. Geological Survey. Updated Apr 142010</ref>
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Air currents move clouds around the globe, cloud particles collide, grow, and fall out of the sky as precipitation. Some precipitation falls as snow and can accumulate as ice caps and glaciers, which can store frozen water for thousands of years. Snowpacks in warmer climates often thaw and melt when spring arrives, and the melted water flows overland as snowmelt. Most precipitation falls back into the oceans or onto land, where, due to gravity, the precipitation flows over the ground as surface runoff.<ref name=usgs/>  
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A portion of runoff enters rivers in valleys in the landscape, with streamflow moving water towards the oceans. Runoff, and ground-water seepage, accumulate and are stored as freshwater in lakes. Not all runoff flows into rivers, though. Much of it soaks into the ground as infiltration. Some water infiltrates deep into the ground and replenishes aquifers (saturated subsurface rock), which store huge amounts of freshwater for long periods of time. Some infiltration stays close to the land surface and can seep back into surface-water bodies (and the ocean) as groundwater discharge, and some ground water finds openings in the land surface and emerges as freshwater springs. Over time, though, all of this water keeps moving, some to reenter the ocean, where the water cycle begins again.<ref name=usgs/>
== References ==
== References ==

Revision as of 15:09, 25 July 2010

Water cycle.png

The water cycle (or hydrologic cycle) describes the cyclic movement of water as molecules make their way from the Earth's surface to the atmosphere, and back again. This gigantic system, powered by energy from the sun, is a continuous exchange of moisture between the oceans, the atmosphere, and the land.[1] Updated: July 24, 2010.

Stages

The sun drives the water cycle as it heats water in the oceans. Some of it evaporates as vapor into the air. Ice and snow can sublimate directly into water vapor. Rising air currents take the vapor up into the atmosphere, along with water from evapotranspiration, 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.[2]

Air currents move clouds around the globe, cloud particles collide, grow, and fall out of the sky as precipitation. Some precipitation falls as snow and can accumulate as ice caps and glaciers, which can store frozen water for thousands of years. Snowpacks in warmer climates often thaw and melt when spring arrives, and the melted water flows overland as snowmelt. Most precipitation falls back into the oceans or onto land, where, due to gravity, the precipitation flows over the ground as surface runoff.[2]

A portion of runoff enters rivers in valleys in the landscape, with streamflow moving water towards the oceans. Runoff, and ground-water seepage, accumulate and are stored as freshwater in lakes. Not all runoff flows into rivers, though. Much of it soaks into the ground as infiltration. Some water infiltrates deep into the ground and replenishes aquifers (saturated subsurface rock), which store huge amounts of freshwater for long periods of time. Some infiltration stays close to the land surface and can seep back into surface-water bodies (and the ocean) as groundwater discharge, and some ground water finds openings in the land surface and emerges as freshwater springs. Over time, though, all of this water keeps moving, some to reenter the ocean, where the water cycle begins again.[2]

References

  1. The Water Cycle by U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Summary of the Water Cycle U.S. Geological Survey. Updated Apr 142010
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