The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle or the H2O cycle, describes the

continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth. The mass of
water on Earth remains fairly constant over time but the partitioning of the water into the major
reservoirs of ice, fresh water, saline water and atmospheric water is variable depending on a
wide range of climatic variables. The water moves from one reservoir to another, such as from
river to ocean, or from the ocean to the atmosphere, by the physical processes
of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, infiltration, runoff, and subsurface flow. In doing so,
the water goes through different phases: liquid, solid (ice), and gas (vapor).
The water cycle involves the exchange of energy, which leads to temperature changes. For
instance, when water evaporates, it takes up energy from its surroundings and cools the
environment. When it condenses, it releases energy and warms the environment. These heat
exchanges influence climate.
The evaporative phase of the cycle purifies water which then replenishes the land with
freshwater. The flow of liquid water and ice transports minerals across the globe. It is also
involved in reshaping the geological features of the Earth, through processes
including erosion and sedimentation. The water cycle is also essential for the maintenance of
most life and ecosystems on the planet.

The sun, which drives the water cycle, heats water in oceans and seas. Water evaporates as
water vapour into the air. Ice,rain and snow can sublimate directly into water
vapour. Evapotranspiration is water transpired from plants and evaporated from the soil. Rising
air currents take the vapour up into the atmosphere where cooler temperatures cause it to
condense into clouds. Air currents move water vapour around the globe, cloud particles collide,
grow, and fall out of the upper atmospheric layers as precipitation. Some precipitation falls as
snow or hail, sleet, and can accumulate as ice caps and glaciers, which can store frozen water
for thousands of years. Most water falls back into the oceans or onto land as rain, where the
water flows over the ground as surface runoff. A portion of runoff enters rivers in valleys in the
landscape, with streamflow moving water towards the oceans. Runoff and water emerging from
the ground (groundwater) may be stored as freshwater in lakes. Not all runoff flows into rivers,
much of it soaks into the ground as infiltration. Some water infiltrates deep into the ground and
replenishes aquifers, which can store 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

or be extracted for agricultural or other human uses. 398.000 km3 (121.[1] Approximately 505. Evaporation The transformation of water from liquid to gas phases as it moves from the ground or bodies of water into the overlying atmosphere.000 cu mi) of water per year and a snowing only 1.000 km3 (121.[4] Sublimation The state change directly from solid water (snow or ice) to water vapor.000 cu mi) of it over the oceans. hail. Some groundwater finds openings in the land surface and comes out as freshwater springs. Over time. Most precipitation occurs as rain. though together they are specifically referred to as evapotranspiration.[4] Canopy interception The precipitation that is intercepted by plant foliage. In river valleys and flood-plains there is often continuous water exchange between surface water and ground water in the hyporheic zone. .000 cu mi) of water falls as precipitation each year. under the force of gravity or gravity induced pressures. the water returns to the ocean. eventually evaporates back to the atmosphere rather than falling to the ground. the water may seep into the ground.graupel. but also includes snow.[2] 86% of global evaporation occurs over the ocean. As it flows. to continue the water cycle. become stored in lakes or reservoirs. so it can remain in aquifers for thousands of years. fog drip.000 km3 (240 cu mi).[2] The rain on land contains 107. Infiltration The flow of water from the ground surface into the ground. Runoff The variety of ways by which water moves across the land. Once infiltrated. 434. Water returns to the land surface at lower elevation than where it infiltrated.000 cu mi) of water. Evaporation often implicitly includes transpiration from plants.000 km3(95. Groundwater tends to move slowly. Processes[edit] Precipitation Condensed water vapor that falls to the Earth's surface .000 cu mi) of which evaporates from the oceans. evaporate into the air.groundwater discharge. Subsurface water may return to the surface (e.g.000 km3 (26.[6] The source of energy for evaporation is primarily solar radiation. Total annual evapotranspiration amounts to approximately 505.[5] Subsurface flow The flow of water underground. Snowmelt The runoff produced by melting snow. the water becomes soil moisture or groundwater. [3] 78% of global precipitation occurs over the ocean. as a spring or by being pumped) or eventually seep into the oceans.000 km3 (104. and is replenished slowly.[7] Deposition This refers to changing of water vapor directly to ice. in the vadose zone and aquifers. This includes both surface runoff and channel runoff. and sleet.

[23] The dead zone at the outlet of the Mississippi River is a consequence of nitrates from fertilizer being . or vapor states — through the atmosphere. the effect of evaporation on the greenhouse effect would lead to a much higher surface temperature of 67 °C (153 °F). and has been postulated to be a contributor to sea-level rise. Both runoff and groundwater flow play significant roles in transporting nitrogen from the land to waterbodies. Water vapor is a gas that cannot be seen. applied in excess to agricultural fields in fertilizers. and a warmer planet. and then transported overland and down rivers.[21] flow of water over and beneath the Earth is a key component of the cycling of other biogeochemicals.[9] Transpiration The release of water vapor from plants and soil into the air. Effects on climate[edit] The water cycle is powered from solar energy. Percolation Water flows vertically through the soil and rocks under the influence of gravity Plate tectonics Water enters the mantle via subduction of oceanic crust.[20] Effects on biogeochemical cycling[edit] While the water cycle is itself a biogeochemical cycle. 86% of the global evaporation occurs from the oceans.Advection The movement of water — in solid. liquid. Water returns to the surface via volcanism. reducing their temperature by evaporative cooling. The salinity of the oceans is derived from erosion and transport of dissolved salts from the land. Runoff is responsible for almost all of the transport of eroded sediment and phosphorus[22] from land to waterbodies. water that evaporated over the oceans could not precipitate over land. Cultural eutrophication of lakes is primarily due to phosphorus. Without advection.[19] Without the cooling.[citation needed] Aquifer drawdown or overdrafting and the pumping of fossil water increases the total amount of water in the hydrosphere.[8] Condensation The transformation of water vapor to liquid water droplets in the air. creating clouds and fog.

Runoff also plays a part in thecarbon cycle. The other type of vaporization is boiling.convergence associated with cyclones. typically by the application of heat or pressure.[1] precipitation is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapour that falls under gravity. hail or sleet. graupel and hail. . Collection: This is when water that falls from the clouds as rain. snow. The internal energy of a substance is increased. lakes. cools and looses its capacity to hold water vapor. snow. whose viscosity increases to a point due to polymerization and then decreases with higher temperatures in its molten state. Condensation is the change of water from its gaseous form (water vapor) into liquid water. Evaporation that occurs directly from the solid phase below the melting point. resulting in a rise of its temperature to the melting point. Melting is a physical process that results in the phase transition of a substance from a solid to a liquid. lifting of air by fronts and lifting over elevated topography such as mountains. collects in the oceans. again through the transport of eroded rock and soil. as commonly observed with ice at or below freezing or moth crystals (napthalene or paradichlorobenzine). Most will infiltrate (soak into) the ground and will collect as underground water. Precipitation: This is when water (in the form of rain. is called sublimation. so that the water condenses and "precipitates". snow. Steam produced in a boiler is another example of evaporation occurring in a saturated vapor phase. excess water vapor condenses to form cloud droplets. Substances in the molten state generally have reduced viscosity with elevated temperature. streams. rivers. An object that has melted completely is molten. Precipitation occurs when a portion of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water vapour. sleet. ice and soils to rise into the air and turn into water vapour (gas). As a result. at which the ordering of ionic or molecular entities in the solid breaks down to a less ordered state and the solid liquefies.carried off agricultural fields and funnelled down the river system to the Gulf of Mexico. rain. lakes. which is characterized by bubbles of saturated vapor forming in the liquid phase. an exception to this maxim is the element sulfur.[24] Evaporation is a type of vaporization of a liquid that occurs from the surface of a liquid into a gaseous phase that is not saturated with the evaporating substance. hail or sleet) falls from clouds in the sky. Water vapour droplets join together to make clouds! Condensation: This is when water vapour in the air cools down and turns back into liquid water.[1] The main forms of precipitation include drizzle. streams. The upward motions that generate clouds can be produced by convection in unstable air. Condensation generally occurs in the atmosphere when warm air rises. Evaporation: This is when warmth from the sun causes water from oceans.