Water cycle is one of the most interesting environmental cycles to learn about. One can always experiment with simple projects to observe this cycle practically.
Water cycle is a simple to understand process. This cycle is also called the H2O cycle or the hydrologic cycle. Water is very important for all living beings. Water cycle keeps providing us with freshwater continuously. This is a reversible cycle, which means every stage in the cycle keeps repeating itself.
In this ScienceStruck article, we will focus on how the water cycle works in detail with a simple diagram.
In order to provide an explanation of water cycle, it can be divided into four main stages. The four stages of this cycle consist of evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and collection. Let us understand each stage one by one.
Refer to the diagram below for better understanding.
Water Cycle Stages
Stage #1 – Evaporation
- In this stage, the Sun starts to evaporate the water in the water bodies, like oceans, seas, lakes, ponds, and rivers.
- This water is in the liquid stage in the water bodies, but changes in weather, and heating due to the Sun converts it into gaseous form.
- Slowly, these vapors of water start rising up to the sky.
- Transpiration, which is water escaping from plants due to Sun’s heat, also contributes to some extent, to the process of evaporation.
Stage #2 – Condensation
- It is in this stage the cloud formation occurs.
- The water in the form of the vapors rising, cools down at a certain height and condenses to form clouds.
Stage #3 – Precipitation
- The water keeps condensing to form clouds, but when there is too much accumulation or collection of water in these clouds, the clouds become heavy.
- This means the air can no longer hold this much amount of water, and the water starts to fall back, mostly in the form of rain.
Stage #4 – Collection
- This water falling down in the form of rain or snow, gets collected in different water bodies.
- When it falls on the ground, it gets stored under the ground, and is called ‘ground water’.
- Then, again evaporation starts due to the Sun’s heat and the cycle happens again.
Above was the theory of water cycle for you to understand, but one grasps concepts better if they are observed practically. Here are some project ideas for water cycle. Make sure you have an adult to help you with these projects.
Project #1 – Rainfall
Take a big glass bowl and fill ¼ of the bowl with water. Place an empty mug in the center of the bowl, be careful not to splash any water, and make sure the level of the water is less than the height of mug.
Now, cover the bowl with plastic cling film, and secure the film by using a rubber band or sticky tape. Keep the bowl under the Sun. Soon the water in the bowl will start to evaporate and get condensed on the surface of the cling film.
Carefully move the bowl to a shady area without splashing any water, and watch the condensed drops fall. After a few hours remove the plastic film, and look inside the cup to see the collected water!
Project #2 – Mini Water Cycle
Take a clear plastic container (a cake display container will work fine). On the base of the container, spread some soil and spray some water on it to make it damp. Then spread some moss over it. Now, take a small bowl and fill it halfway with water and place it in the center, and scatter few pebbles around.
Now, you have created an Earth-like environment. Place the lid carefully to seal the container, and leave the container in the Sun. Soon, you will observe a mini water cycle.
The water from soil, moss, and the bowl will evaporate due to the Sun’s heat, condense on top of the container roof, and once the drops become large, they will fall back down. Fun, isn’t it?
Project #3 – Make Water
Take a plate and fix a candle in the middle of the plate. Light the candle (ask an adult to help you with it).
Then put a clear glass on the candle, which should be big enough to cover up the whole candle. After some time the candle will go off, and you will observe tiny drops of water inside the glass!
This happens due to the combining of hydrogen molecules with the oxygen molecules present in the air.
Here are some fun facts about water cycle, that you didn’t know.
A rainbow is a short-term phenomenon, which occurs when sunlight reflects the rain drops in the air and scatters the colors!
Water cycle is a reversible process, which means you can change water to vapors, and condense these vapors to form water.
Did you know that frozen water or ice is lighter than water? Hence, ice tends to float in water. Think about this when you put an ice cube in your lemonade.
Sometimes this collected water, comes down to the Earth’s surface in the form of snow, hail, or partially melted snow which is called sleet.
A study suggests that due to global warming, the water cycle has been affected. This has led to the wet places become even more wetter, and dry places even more dryer.
The dew drops seen on the leaves is actually moisture in the air condensed in the air due to low temperature during night!
Rarely, acid rain can be observed because of environmental pollution.
Did you know that 97% of the water on Earth is salt water found in the oceans?
Only 3% of the Earth’s water is freshwater, and 2% of the water is found in glaciers and ice caps, which leaves only 1% for land animals and humans to use.
Salt water is available in abundance, but not suitable for humans to drink. Even though, the salt can be removed from ocean water, it is very expensive.
So, just the 1% freshwater available to use is very valuable, which make water cycle necessary for plant, animal, and human life. Hence, we all should try to save water.
Well, this was all about the stages of the water cycle, and some projects to practically observe this interesting cycle. So, go on and perform the above projects and watch the cycle for yourself!