Nature is an amazing thing. It is the ultimate conserver and recycler, wasting nothing with its rhythms and cycles. The water cycle is just such a process, whereby water is continually recycled through this wonderful and balanced system.
In basic terms, the water cycle is the unceasing transportation of water from the Earth’s surface to the air, and then back around again from the air to the Earth, ad infinitum. Within the water cycle, water forms an unrelenting cycle of precipitation that is created, formed and absorbed in various different states at various points-liquid, solid and gas.
In terms of the actually stages of the water cycle, we begin with the water lying in the great storage vessels of the Earth, namely the lakes, rivers and oceans. This lying water is evaporated by dint of the sun’s heat, thereby transforming states into water vapour. This water vapour then rises into the atmosphere. After this, once the water vapour has risen beyond the Earth’s warm atmosphere, is begins to cool, causing it to once more change states. The next state is that tiny water droplets are formed which collide in order to form clouds. As these cloud get larger and larger, they get subsequently heavier until they are unable to hold any more droplets. At this point, the water finally falls from the sky as rain. If the Earth’s atmosphere is cold at this point, the water will fall in the form of sleet or snow. Finally, the precipitation falls to Earth, where, in the very final step of the water cycle, the fallen rain or melted snow runs back to the point of origin in the Earth’s great lying reservoirs-the oceans lakes and river-the largest sources of water vapour-and back to the beginning of our cycle. This cycle reaches one completion in around nine days before starting afresh without ceasing.
So, in scientific terms, the various process in evolved at each point are: Evaporation, where lying Earth-bound water is changed into water vapour by the sun’s heat. The next process is condensation, where the rising vapour cools, and becomes tiny water droplet as the temperature cools at great heights. Next, is precipitation, where the water droplets fall back to Earth as rain, followed by runoff, where the fallen water either remains on the Earth’s surface, or flows back into water bodies such as oceans, rivers and lakes. Finally, we have percolation, where the water on the Earth’s surface seeps underground. In low-lying areas, this water forms aquifers. The water cycle helps to maintain balance, and helps to give enough water at the correct time where needed as well as assist with the regulation of the temperature on the earth’s surface thanks to the energy dispersion in the evaporation process as well as energy retention through the freezing process in cold locations and during winter months.