Many people understand that our human bodies are made up of majority water. Up to sixty percent of an adult body is water. We cannot survive without it. You may have also heard that the water that exists currently is the water that existed when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Water is found in many forms all over—from oceans to the atmosphere. It is constantly being recycled on a very large scale. Understanding the importance of the water cycle will help us learn what we can do to help.
The water cycle is also known as the hydrologic cycle. It consists of three major processes. However, two others should be noted.
Evaporation occurs when a collection of water turns from a liquid into a gas. Evaporation is the primary pathway in which water moves from its liquid state back into water vapor in the atmosphere. The droplets of water that are formed make up the clouds.
The process of condensation occurs when the water droplets that were collected are on a cold surface and collide with humid air. This converts vapor back to a liquid as steam does. Condensation fills the clouds with water, leading to precipitation.
Precipitation is the water that clouds release in the form of rain, sleet, snow, or hail. It is the primary delivery system of Earth’s water from the atmosphere. Rain is the most common form of precipitation. As it falls, it’s essential that we understand stormwater management and why it’s important as it enters the collection phase.
As it precipitates, water is collected in large bodies of water such as our oceans, lakes, ponds, and streams. Most water lands on the ground and begins to soak into it as well as be collected as underground water. With the efforts of drainage systems and ways of collecting excess water, we can preserve and conserve it for drinking, irrigation, and much more.
The process in which moisture from groundwater is carried through plants from the roots, to pores, to leaves is called transpiration. During this time, water changes to vapor just as it does in evaporation. It just comes from plant leaves rather than collection pools, hydrating the plants that provide our oxygen and food.
We rely on all these processes to help maintain life of all living organisms on our planet. It is essential that the water we have access to is treated with care so that we may conserve what is available to us. Understanding the importance of the water cycle will hopefully contribute to the realization that the freshwater we have is precious and without the constant cycling, all would be lost.