Water facts - the water cycle

Also known as the hydrologic cycle, the water cycle is the continuous flow of water between Earth and sky in a transitioning state. To further explain this concept, let’s begin with evaporation.

Water rises from the ground and is absorbed by a cloud, ultimately falling back to the Earth in the form of precipitation, such as rain or snow. Next, the precipitation is eventually evaporated to the cloud again, repeating the cycle constantly while changing from a solid to a liquid to a gas.

Sometimes precipitation creates a runoff that travels over the earth's surface to fill lakes and rivers. During this process, the water infiltrates the land and percolates through openings in the soil to replenish underground aquifers. The water travels downward through the earth at a rate of about one foot per day, a process that naturally cleanses the natural resource of most impurities.

Interestingly, geographic locations that are close to oceans or large bodies of water typically experience more precipitation, causing water to more often evaporate and form clouds.

Conversely, areas that are farther from water or near mountains will receive less precipitation. As clouds move up and over the mountains, the water vapor condenses to form freezing precipitation, causing snow to fall on the peaks.