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What is the Water Cycle

Sujata Iyer May 4, 2019
What is the water cycle? How does it help us? And how does it take place? Find the answers to these questions by reading the following post.
We see water all around us. In ponds, rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans. But do we ever think where it all came from? While we may never find out how water first came to occur on the earth, we do have an explanation as to where and how we receive water that replenishes all the water bodies regularly. It is done by the process called the water cycle.

Evaporation

In the diagram, you can see that the first thing that happens is water from all the different water bodies begins to turn into vapor due to the heat from the sun's rays.
This process of a liquid substance turning into a gas due to the induction of heat is called evaporation. This happens at a greater extent in summer, because the rays of the sun are very strong then.
Alongside evaporation from the water bodies, there is also a process that causes water content from the plants to reduce by the sun's rays. This is called evapotranspiration.

Condensation

The next step is cloud formation. The water that forms water vapor becomes lighter than air. It rises higher and higher until it reaches a point where the cold air forces it to change its state of matter. When a gaseous substance becomes a liquid due to the induction of cold, it is called condensation. Condensation occurs and clouds are formed.

Precipitation

The clouds that are formed due to the condensation of water vapor rise further higher into the atmosphere. They continue to rise upwards, all the time gathering more and more water vapor along with dust particles and becoming bigger and bigger.
They do this until they cannot bear the weight of the vapor anymore and the molecules become too tightly held together to move around. This is when precipitation occurs. Precipitation is the process in which the clouds' capacity to sustain any more water vapor is exceeded. Precipitation occurs in three basic forms: rain, snow, and hail.

Collection

Once the water vapor in the clouds gets precipitated in the form of rain, it falls into the different water bodies like rivers, lakes, seas, oceans, etc. Water also falls on the ground and flows back into the water bodies. This process is called surface run-off.
Alternatively, the water may also get seeped into the ground and get percolated below the surface of the earth. This is what we know as groundwater.
The snow that gets precipitated melts in summer and flows back into the water bodies or gets absorbed into the ground as well. This water again gets evaporated due to the sun's rays and thus the whole water cycle continues endlessly.
So, now if anyone happens to ask you what the water cycle is, you should be able to aptly describe it, maybe even with a diagram, how ever rudimentary it may be. It is a very simple concept to understand and explain.