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Water: The Prime Essence Of Life

Updated on January 27, 2019
Crystal Gordon profile image

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Introducing the Hydrosphere

Basics of water on earth
Basics of water on earth | Source

The Hydrosphere

The hydrosphere is the total water realm of the earth, including the oceans, surface water of the lands, groundwater, and water held in the atmosphere.

Water is essential to all life and all life activities.

Plants as well as animals need water for survival.

Water can be found throughout the world in the soil, underground, marshes, swamps, ponds, streams, rivers, lakes, glaciers, oceans, clouds, and precipitation.

There is a continual movement of these elements as they travel from one part of the hydrosphere to another.

This continual movement is referred to as the hydrologic cycle or the “water cycle”.

Song That Sums It Up

The Water Cycle

The hydrologic cycle is a natural phenomena.

It is a series of storage areas interconnected by various transfer processes in which there is a ceaseless interchange of moisture in terms of its geographical location and its physical state.

In a nutshell, the hydrologic cycle recycles the earth’s valuable water supply.

Water is always changing forms.

It moves from sky to Earth and back to the sky again.

Once this has taken place, the water cycle has come full circle and restarts.

Processes of The Water Cycle

Of the many processes involved in the hydrologic cycle, there are two major components.

These components are:

  1. Evaporation (from surface to air)
  2. Precipitation (from air to surface)

Other important elements of the cycle include transpiration of moisture from vegetation to atmosphere, surface runoff, subsurface flow of water from land to sea, condensation of water vapor to form clouds from which precipitation may fall, and advection of moisture from one place to another.

However, there are well over 30 processes that contribute to the continuous circulation of water in the Earth-atmosphere system.

An Illustration of the Water Cycle

A Multi-Phased Journey
A Multi-Phased Journey | Source

How The Cycle Starts

The water cycle is actually a "cycle," therefore; there is no starting or ending point to it.

However, most people begin with the sun because it gives the energy that powers this amazing process.

The water cycle is powered from solar energy that heats the water in the oceans.

This input of solar energy into the ocean turns the water into what is called “hot” ocean water.

After the water in the oceans is heated the evaporation process comes into play.

Evaporation Process

Evaporation is the process by which liquid water is converted to gaseous water vapor.

The oceans are the principal source of water for evaporation.

They occupy 71 percent of the earth’s surface, have unlimited moisture available, and are extensive in low latitudes.

As a result, it is estimated that 86 percent of all evaporated moisture comes from ocean surfaces.

The source of energy for evaporation is primarily solar radiation.

Energy from the sun in the form of light and heat causes water to evaporate from oceans, rivers, lakes and even puddles.

The warm air currents that rise up from the earth's surface lifts the water vapor up into the atmosphere.

After this lifting of water vapor into the atmosphere, the water vapor is referred to as “hot” water vapor.

Radiation, Conduction, Convection Song

Convection Process

After the “hot” water vapor is produced another process begins to take place.

This process can be referred to as convection, convective lifting, or adiabatic cooling.

By definition, these three words are all in relation to the vertical movements of parcels of air due to density differences.

In other words, when water vapor condenses back into a liquid it releases “locked up” heat, which is converted into sensible heat warming the surrounding air.

The warming of the surrounding air gives a lift up to help promote adiabatic cooling and in turn gives off an output which is called “cold” water vapor.

This “cold” water vapor gives way to the next process referred to as condensation.

How Clouds Are Formed

Condensation Process

Condensation is the process of the water cycle that occurs in the atmosphere as warm air rises, then cools and water vapor is unable to be held in the air.

It is the conversion of water vapor or gas to liquid.

When enough vapor attaches itself to tiny pieces of dust, pollen or pollutants, it forms a cloud.

Old clouds constantly re-evaporate and new ones form, creating ever-changing patterns in the sky.

Clouds consist of excess water vapor and contain tiny water droplets formed as the gas condenses.

As air becomes less dense the process of advection begins.

In the atmosphere, wind may transfer warm or cool air horizontally from one place to another through the process of advection.

Advection Process

Advection is one way of transportation.

It is important for the formation of orographic clouds and the precipitation of water from clouds, as part of the hydrological cycle.

Once air is chilled by cool water, a cloud is formed.

This cloud is referred to as an advected cloud.

Once the advected cloud is formed another process takes place called orographic lifting.

This process occurs when there is an uplift of air over a topgraphic barrier.

After orographic lifting has taken place, an output of cold clouds that contain drops form.

Because this cold air cannot hold the moisture as well as warm air can, they frequently let out precipitation.

Rap Song on Perciptation

Precipitation Process

Precipitation is the primary way in which water is transported from the atmosphere to the Earth’s surface.

It is drops of liquid or solid water falling from clouds (i.e. rain water).

Precipitation in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail is the source of nearly all the fresh water in the hydrologic cycle.

By the process of freezing, the rain water can be turned into ice.

And, this ice may be directly converted into water vapor or vice versa by the process of sublimation.

On the other hand, by the process of melting, the snow can be transformed into rain water.

The amount of precipitation that occurs during the year affects every part of our lives.

The world's food supplies depend on how much and what kind of precipitation occurs.

The oceans receive three times more precipitation than the continents.

Just as most precipitation falls on the oceans, most of the water that evaporates and returns to the atmosphere as water vapor is also from ocean surfaces.

About 85 percent of the water that evaporates and returns to the atmosphere is from the oceans.

The remaining 15 percent of water that moves to the atmosphere is from the continents.

This includes evaporation from lakes, rivers, and soil and rock surfaces, and transpiration from plants.

Transpiration is the transfer of moisture from plant leaves to the atmosphere.

Interactive Site For The Water Cycle

Learn More Here
Learn More Here | Source

Other Processes

Once precipitation has reached the earth's surface, several things can happen to it.

Precipitated water may be intercepted and taken up by plants; which is a process of the hydrologic cycle called water uptake.

Or it may go through the process of infiltration or percolation into the soil; meaning the water will move or filter downward into the soil and regolith.

Groundwater is an output of this process in which water is found in soil layers (e.g., grains, in cracks and fractures of solid, dense rock), after penetrating the Earth’s surface.

There is also a process called absorption that takes place after the water uptake process because after the water has moved into the soil there is a removal of it by roots or it may be recharged.

Precipitated water may also flow from land to oceans by overland flow, streaming flow, and groundwater flow; this process would be referred to as runoff or surface flow.

Excess runoff can also cause flooding, when too much precipitation occurs.

Precipitated water may also flow through the subsurface to reach streams, lakes, wetlands, and ultimately the ocean; which would be a process referred to as subsurface flow.

Some of the discharged water is evaporated from surfaces and transpired by plants to reenter the atmosphere, and the hydrologic cycle continues.

Interesting Info Recognized by Analyzing the Water Cycle

Why Water Is Essential

Water is merely water to most people; however, it is essential to our survival.

Life would be exceedingly difficult without it.

Water is the most important substance that makes this earth come alive; it is the most precious gift that has ever been bestowed upon us and it is the most common substance on the earth.

With each passing year, water has become increasingly scarce yet it is more in demand than ever.

By 2025, an estimated 1.8 billion people will live in areas plagued by water scarcity, with two-thirds of the world's population living in water-stressed regions as a result of use, growth, and climate change.

Therefore, water is more precious than gold.

Why We Must Protect Water

Even though the earth's water supply remains constant, people are certainly capable of altering the cycle of that fixed supply.

With population increases, rising living standards, and industrial and economic growth there are greater demands on our natural environment taking place.

Our activities often times create an imbalance in the hydrologic cycle and can affect the quantity and quality of natural water resources available to our current and future generations.

Large cities and urban spread out particularly affect local climate and hydrology.

Urbanization is accompanied by faster drainage of water through road drains and city sewer systems, which even increases the amount of urban flood events.

This alters the rates of infiltration, evaporation, and transpiration that would otherwise occur in a natural setting.

Various effects determine the amount of water in the cycle and can result in extremely negative consequences for river watersheds, lake levels, aquifers, and the environment as a whole.

Therefore, it is vital to learn about and protect our water resources.

Quick Question

Have You Heard Of The Hydrologic Cycle Before?

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The hydrologic cycle is essential to our survival.

It can change and intensify, leading to changes in water supply as well as flood and drought patterns.

It is also extremely powerful.

The hydrologic cycle in one day uses more energy than humankind has created throughout its entire history.

If one part of the system stopped functioning properly everything would fall apart.

For example: If ice did not melt, rivers and oceans would reduce in size, some rivers would wither, new snow and ice would accumulate instead of melt throughout the years, and most likely another ice age would occur.

Water is so essential to life on earth that if it disappeared, it could cause a global food shortage, could devastate rain forests and eventually could eliminate living things on the earth.

The hydrologic cycle is important to earth for a number of different reasons.

It is how water reaches plants, animals and humans.

Besides providing humans, animals and plants with a water supply, it also moves nutrients, pathogens and remains in and out of aquatic ecosystems.

This is a continuous exchange of water between the earth and the atmosphere is so essential because water makes up a substantial part of living organisms, and those organisms need water for life.

Without water, the biosphere that exists on the surface of the earth wouldn't be possible.

The hydrologic cycle continuously moves water and keep sources fresh.

Countless gallons a year are cycled through this process.

Without this process life on Earth would be absolutely impossible.

Therefore, it is imperative that everyone understands it and treats it with respect.

© 2016 Crystal Gordon


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