Water Cycle Vocabulary

The Water Cycle
The change and movement of the Earth’s water from liquid to vapor
to solid. The water cycle is solar powered.
store most of the Earth’s water. Over 70% of the Earth’s surface is ocean; it
contains 96.5% of the world’s water supply.
occurs when the sun heats water up and it becomes vapor in the air
is the opposite of evaporation; it occurs when air cools and the vapor
collects into liquid form.
is condensation falling onto land in the form of rain, sleet, hail, snow, and
mist. Only 10% of water evaporated falls as precipitation.
occurs when snow or ice (considered the solid form of water) changes
directly into vapor (dry ice).
is the opposite of sublimation; it occurs when the vapor turns directly
into solid ice or snow.
occurs when water is discharged as vapor into the atmosphere as a
result of evaporation from the soil and transpiration by plants. Transpiration is how
water is carried through the plants from the roots. The stomata on the underside of leaves
allows water to escape into the air. Factors that affect transpiration include temperature,
humidity, wind, soil moisture, and type of plant.
Plant Uptake
is how much water the plant absorbs and uses.
Surface Runoff
is when precipitation travels over the soil surface to the nearest stream
channel. When rain hits saturated or impervious ground, it will flow downhill. It is
affected by topographic, geographic, and geologic factors.
Snowmelt runoff to streams
is when snow and ice melt into surface water and move
across the soil surface into streams.
Stream flow
is the movement of water in a natural channel such as a river. The amount
of water flowing in the stream is affected by the watershed’s surface runoff, springs, and
groundwater discharge.
is the downward movement of water from the land surface into the soil or
porous rock. Ground water begins as precipitation. Once water infiltrates the soil it can
move vertically and horizontally through the soil.
Groundwater Storage
is the water that exists for long periods below the Earth’s
Groundwater Discharge
is the movement of water out of the ground
is an example of a groundwater discharge. It is usually formed when the side of
a hill, a valley bottom, or other excavation intersects at or below the local water table,
below which the substrate is saturated. It is most prevalent in limestone and dolomite,
which fracture easily and can be dissolved by rainfall.
Freshwater Storage
includes wetlands, lakes, ponds, and large rivers that hold
Water Storage in the Atmosphere
Water is stored as vapor such as clouds and
humidity. The atmosphere is full of water. It is the superhighway used to move water
around the globe. However, it is a poor storage area holding only .001% of the Earth’s
water. An evaporated water molecule spends an average of 10 days in the atmosphere