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The water cycle (intermediate)

The water cycle (intermediate)

Water on Earth is in a continuous state of change. The water cycle includes processes such as evaporation, precipitation, melting and freezing.

Geography

Keywords

cycle, water, water cycle, evaporation, melting, precipitation, freezing, change of state, solar radiation, cloud formation, runoff, rain, snow, cloud, hydrosphere, underground water, surface waters, glacier, seawater, river, stream, lake, sea, ocean, atmosphere, water vapor, solar energy, wind, moisture, air pressure, sunshine, climate, nature, geography

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Questions

Scenes

  • - Elevations of the Earth's surface rising abruptly, higher than 500 meters (1,640 ft) above sea level.
  • - The place where underground water flows to the surface.

The water deposit of the Earth is like a huge perpetual motion machine. Approximately 1.4 billion km³ (3.698x10²⁰ gal) of water is processed in its cycle every year. (About 30% of water cannot take part in the circular process, as this amount is in a chemically bound state.)

What keeps the process moving? Principally, the energy of solar radiation. This causes the continuous change of state of water: it evaporates – condensates – freezes – melts. When absorbing heat, ice melts; ice and snow (=solid water) go from a solid to a liquid (=water) state; and finally water evaporates, turning into vapor (=aeriform water).

When releasing heat, water freezes into ice; water vapor condensates, forming clouds, and resulting in precipitation.
Water cannot stay in any of its states permanently neither in the atmosphere, nor on the surface. Gravity moves water on lands: on the surface downwards from higher areas towards lower areas, or under the surface. Water may continue its journey even under the surface, until it finds its way to the surface as a spring.

During its cycle, water wanders around several layers of the Earth, connecting them by exchanging their water content. Water in the atmosphere is renewed every 8 days, while the world ocean every 3,500 years, water stored in continental ice every 12,000 years, and the water supply situated under the surface gets exchanged every 1,400 years.

  • vaporization by the vegetation

  • vaporization by the vegetation

Narration

The Sun’s energy warms up lakes and seas, causing the water to evaporate from the surface and from plants. The vapor rises into the colder regions of the atmosphere where it condenses and forms clouds.

The condensation occurs on the surface of small dust particles found in the air. Clouds may be composed of water droplets and ice crystals. The wind blows clouds and vapor towards land, where the formation of further clouds begins. The condensed water droplets start to grow; when they reach a size that prevents them from remaining in the air, they fall in the form of rain.

Rain clouds are dark in color and hang low, while large storm clouds are anvil-shaped. When the temperature is above 0 °C (32 °F), it rains, when it falls below 0° (32 °F), it snows.

A part of the rain or snow seeps into the soil, while the rest flows into surface waters. Rivers carry the water into lakes and seas, and so it returns to the starting point, where the process starts all over again due to the effect of solar radiation.

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Evaporating surface water forms clouds of various shapes from which water falls back to the surface as precipitation.

How do seas shape the Earth's surface?

Seawater, as an external force, plays an important role in shaping coastlines.

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Icebergs are blocks of frozen freshwater floating in the sea.

Layers of the ocean

Physical properties, as well as the flora and fauna of the ocean change with depth.

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The most important types of local winds are the sea-land breeze, the mountain-valley breeze as well as the downslope winds.

Rivers and landforms

Rivers play an important role in shaping the Earth's surface: they cause erosion as well as carrying and depositing sediment.

Seas and bays

This animation demonstrates the most important seas and bays.

The development of lakes

Standing bodies of water can form in depressions on the surface by both endogenic and exogenic forces, as well as by human activity.

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Groundwater and aquifers are types of underground waters.

Water (H₂O)

Water is a very stable compound of hydrogen and oxygen, vital for all known forms of life. In nature it occurs in liquid, solid and gaseous state.

Waterfall

Waterfalls form where the river flows over a steep precipice in its course.

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Continents and oceans

Dry land on the surface of Earth is divided into continents which are separated by oceans.

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Ocean currents

The Great ocean conveyor is a planet-wide system of ocean currents, which has a great influence on the Earth´s climate.

Oxygen cycle

The oxygen cycle describes the movement of oxygen within its three main reservoirs.

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Carbon cycle

Carbon is bound in organic substances during photosynthesis, while during breathing, it is released into the atmosphere.

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The protective embankment, or, in case of minor floods, the summer dike ensures the protection against flood damage.

Glacier (basic)

A glacier is a large body of ice that forms from snow, and is in constant, slow motion.

Nitrogen cycle

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The phosphorus cycle

The phosphorus cycle describes the movement of phosphorus through the lithosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere.

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The main sources of water pollution are industry, agriculture and urban areas.

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The water supply system provides clean and safe drinking water for the consumers.

Karst region (intermediate)

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The water cycle (basic)

Water on Earth is in a continuous state of change. The water cycle includes processes such as evaporation, precipitation, melting and freezing.

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