What is the Water Cycle?

The Water Cycle (also known as the hydrologic cycle) is the journey water takes as it circulates from the land to the sky and back again.

Interactive Game
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The story of the Water Cycle

Why do we need the water cycle?

The Earth is covered by water, however, almost 97% is salt water found in the oceans. We can not drink salt water or use it for crops because of the salt content. We can remove salt from ocean water, but the process is very expensive.

How many processes make up the water cycle?

There are six important processes that make up the water cycle.

  1. Condensation – the opposite of evaporation. Condensation occurs when a gas is changed into a liquid.
  2. Infiltration – Infiltration is an important process where rain water soaks into the ground, through the soil and underlying rock layers.
  3. Runoff – Much of the water that returns to Earth as precipitation runs off the surface of the land, and flows down hill into streams, rivers, ponds and lakes.
  4. Evaporation – the process where a liquid, in this case water, changes from its liquid state to a gaseous state.
  5. Precipitation – When the temperature and atmospheric pressure are right, the small droplets of water in clouds form larger droplets and precipitation occurs. The raindrops fall to Earth.
  6. Transpiration – As plants absorb water from the soil, the water moves from the roots through the stems to the leaves. Once the water reaches the leaves, some of it evaporates from the leaves, adding to the amount of water vapor in the air. This process of evaporation through plant leaves is called transpiration.

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