The water cycle

Probably most of us are familiar with the term “water cycle.” As kids, we have all read about it in school. But how much do we remember?

Don’t worry if you don’t, because here we are going to discuss everything you need to know about the phenomenon of the water cycle. It is fun and interesting.

Knowledge about one of the necessities, the element we cannot survive without, is water, is important. Water, in other words, is life.

But how is the ocean, land, river is connected through the water cycle? We will soon know.

What is the water cycle?

The water cycle, scientifically speaking, is a biogeochemical cycle that includes the three main physical processes of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and some other processes like an infiltration, surface runoff, subsurface flow, advection, transpiration.


In simple language, it is the process that is the movement of water from the earth to the atmosphere and from the atmosphere to the earth.

The main regulator of this process is the Sun, and the water in this process goes through all three of its forms- solid, liquid and gas.

As simple as the term “water cycle” sounds, the process is not that simple. The process has been discussed below.

Evaporation

The process of evaporation is known to most of us. It is, in simple language, the process by which liquid is turned into vapour.

It is the first step of the water cycle. It is the process that turns water from a liquid state to a gaseous state.

Heat is necessary for this process which is provided by the Sun. This heat from the Sun makes the water molecules move faster and faster until they move so fast they transform into their gaseous state and escape as water vapour in the air.

This water vapour forms dew, fog, clouds and later helps in precipitation.

Condensation

Condensation is the process by which water is transformed into a liquid state from a gaseous state. It is the second step of the water cycle.

It is how water vapour in the air transforms into a liquid state.
Condensation occurs when the air contains more water vapour than it can hold from through evaporation at the existing temperature.

It occurs when a mixture of air is formed which have different masses and temperature.

Precipitation

Precipitation is the condensation of water vapours in the air and the final step of the water cycle.

When the water vapours forming clouds fall under the earth’s gravitational force onto the earth, it takes many forms known as precipitation.

The main forms of precipitation are- rain, snow, drizzling, hail. This process of precipitation is the main source of fresh water on earth.

The causes of precipitation include frontal activity, convection, orographic effects, large scale geographical distribution.

Infiltration

Infiltration is how the groundwater infiltrates into the soil, thus helping in the last step of the water cycle.

It is the source of underground water. The factors that affect infiltration are precipitation, soil characteristics and saturation, the slope of the land and some other factors.

Surface runoff

Surface runoff is the flow of water from one place to another, consisting of rainwater, meltwater, and some other sources when they are excessive.

Subsurface flow

Subsurface flow refers to the underground flow of water. It depends on rainfall, moisture, permeability and saturation of the soil.

Advection

Advection is very important for precipitation to take place. In simple language, it is the movement of water vapour through the atmosphere.

Transpiration

It is the exhalation of water by plants and soil into the air.

The necessity of water cycle

The water cycle is very necessary. The reasons are as follows-

• Water cycle helps in providing fresh water to all living organisms.
• Water cycle helps in checking the greenhouse effect by cooling the temperature.
• Water cycle helps inflow of biogeochemical on earth.

In short, the water cycle is a natural phenomenon of maintaining itself and providing life to all creatures.

So next time, before you waste water, remember even one drop of water is important as nature goes through such a complex process to provide it to us.

Author

Mike Brown has done Masters in Hydrology and Water Management. He loves coffee and likes to lecture people on climate change. He plays PUBG when he is not working.

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