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Chapter 10: Hydrological Cycle

The Water Cycle


The water cycle is a closed cascading system The water molecules circulate through the system in a never ending cycle of renewal Water is the only truly renewable resource in that the same molecules circulating today have been with the earth since the beginning Looking at the journey a water molecule takes through the system we can trace any source of danger The first challenge we face is in the availability of fresh water All life on the earth's surface requires fresh water to live However, there is a limited amount of fresh water for use The largest quantity of water is held in oceans This water has a high saline content and so is unavailable for human use and consumption (salt water) The next largest store of water is the water held in glaciers and ice packs Because this water is not immediately available for use it is considered to be held in long term storage The term cycle refers to the fact that the water molecules flow through a series of events which cause them to be used and reused for all life The water cycle is driven by the energy of the sun It begins with the evaporation of water from the ocean Water contains energy As it moves into the atmosphere it creates weather and these weather systems drive other systems As it can be seen the movement of water through the cycle carries with it a lot of energy The water that flows from the rivers and streams carry other elements to through the system as well

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The ocean

The oceans are the great storehouse of earths' water The oceans' great depths mean that the water takes a long time to recycle through the system The convection currents in the ocean move the colder deep waters to the top but it does take a long time It takes about a thousand years for deep ocean water to make its way to the surface where it is recycled in the hydrological cycle The ocean is divided into two major zones These zones are distinguished by temperature and chemical composition The zones are separated by layer known as the Thermocline Thermo - to do with heat There is very little interchange between the zones due to the difference Under the thermocline is the deep ocean It is only recently, thanks to satellite imagery, the we are learning more about the ocean floor The deepest humans have ever dived was 10,900 meters That is the bottom of the Marian's trench The deepest part of the earth's surface The Mariana's trench is located off the coast of Japan It is the deepest part of the ocean
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The water in the oceans circulates This process keeps the clod ,nutrient rich waters flowing to top where they can feed the marine life Since cold water is very dense, the water off the Antarctic continent flows into the ocean and down This generates a current which drives the current known as the *Antarctic Bottom water current* These deep water currents are essential for the nutrient cycle of the ocean The other deep water current is the one that is result of the North Atlantic Drift After the NAD has lost its heat energy, it falls deep and continues the cycle south These deep water currents are responsible for driving the oceans energy systems The oceans are comprised of deep trenches, high mountains, large expanses known as Plains (see diagram below) The next great storehouse of water is found on land Water frozen in ice sheets and glaciers is considered long term storage Since salt water doesn't freeze, the water in these ice sheets is freshwater It is unavailable for human use however since its properties are essential for maintaining the delicate balance on earth The salt that leaves the water contributes to the salinity of the oceans

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Freshwater

Groundwater is all of the water found beneath the earth's surface This includes vast caverns, contains or fresh waters called aquifers This is our single most important source of fresh water We drill wells to tap into these storehouses Sometimes the aquifer has a part that is close to the surface and the water seeps out This is an artesian well In the right-hand-side diagram you can see how the water table allows us access to the freshwater below Where the surface is below the water table you get a natural spring occur Water in the water table is not always easily accessible Sometimes the depth is too great or there may be a layer of hard rock material to prevent the easy exploitation of the water Other times the water has been polluted by industry or agriculture

Water gets into the aquifers through percolation As the water moves down through the soil, it is cleaned
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The replenishing of water in an aquifer is called recharge This occurs when the moisture from precipitation of from snow melt seeps into the ground

An aquifer can consist of a cap rock and a porous rock One of the easiest sources of freshwater is found in the rivers and lakes of the world Unfortunately heavy industrial demands have taken a great toll on this source of water Hard water versus soft water: Canada is home to more rivers and lakes than any other country in the world except Russia and Brazil This makes it essential that we understand the value of this resource - freshwater A drainage basin is the area where all precipitation will drain into Rivers have a drainage basin, then these rivers will drain into a lake completing its drainage basins that exit in the ocean In the 60s and 70s, the heavy industrial around the Great Lakes led to serious environmental concerns Lake Erie is the most shallow of all the Great Lakes and yet was home to a majority of industry The pollutants poured into the lake were causing severe environmental damage By the late 70s, Lake Erie was dying The Lake Erie situation was a wake-up call
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Governments had to face some unpleasant realities The Canadian government began to take steps The Canadian government of the time passed a law requiring all industry to attach "scrubbers" on the stacks Heavy pollutes dumped into the water must pass through settling ponds Eutrophication - water is very polluted and causes a massive amount of algae to grow, killing marine organism

Atmosphere

The last great storehouse of freshwater is all around us The atmosphere has a vast amount of freshwater in its composition We refer to atmospheric moisture as humidity This was discussed in the last chapter. Water enters the atmosphere through the process of evaporation Important: when water changes state there is a release of energy Precipitation occurs when water molecules form large enough to fall For this to happen, the water molecules need something to form upon These are called hygroscopic particles
RH<100% RH>100%

Dry particles

Wet particles

Cloud particles (Not to Scale)

The ability for moisture to cling on to a hygroscopic particle has had to the science of cloud seeding In areas of poor rainfall, farmers will sometimes hire people to seed the clouds By putting hygroscopic particles of silver iodide into the atmosphere, clouds could be encouraged to create rain

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Fog

Two main types of fog Advection and radiation fog Fog, mist and cloud are all formed when air cools to its dew point Water in the air may condense onto a cold surface such as the ground, a house roof or on to small particles in the air (known in the trade as condensation nuclei). At ground level the "cloud" is called fog or mist depending upon the visibility Most common over land is Radiation Fog which occurs on a clear night with light winds Radiation from the ground escapes out to space, the ground cools and, in turn, cools the air the air in contact with it. On an absolutely still night, condensation will occur on the ground to form dew This fog dissipates when a breeze blows in or the sun comes up Advection fog is the fog that is produced when damp air is moved across a surface that is cooler than the air It is most commonly seen overseas or other bodies of water, but it is possible over snowcovered or frosty land masses, as well. When the temperature of the air is lowered to its dew point, changes start to happen In areas where sea air is cooled by the water, advection fog is most common Consequently, this fog is also called sea fog Advection fog is usually seen during certain seasons, specifically spring and the first few months of summer At this time, the surface temperature of the sea water is either at its lowest temperature or recovering from a winter season where it was already at its lowest.

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