The Water Cycle

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The Water Cycle

The water cycle describes the continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth.

Water can change to liquid, vapour, and ice at various places in the water cycle. Water moves from rivers to the sea, from the sea to the atmosphere, and from the atmosphere to the ground by the processes of evaporation, condensation, wind and precipitation. During these processes water goes through different phases: liquid, solid, and gas.


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Stages of the process


Heat from the sun causes water to evaporate and turn into water vapour. In certain conditions trees and other plants will transpire water vapour into the air faster than simple evaporation from the ground or lakes. This process is called 'transpiration'.
Condensation or cloud formation
Water vapour in the atmosphere condenses to form clouds.
Air currents move the clouds inland.
Warm air rises, cools, water precipitates out, which then falls as rain and snow. Sufficient wet weather is required to saturate the ground so that water can pass through to the aquifer and re-charge the water table.



Water level in the underground aquifer rises, rivers and lakes are replenished following depletion during the summer months. Water supplies are secured for the next year. Most of this water eventually returns to the sea and the cycle can begin again.