The Water Cycle!

Pour yourself a glass of water and take a sip. Did you know that the water you've just swallowed is the same water that wooly mammoths, King Tutankhamun and the first humans drank? That's because Earth has been recycling water for over 4 billion years!

The world's water moves between lakes, rivers, oceans, the atmosphere and the land in an ongoing cycle called - you guessed it! - the water cycle. As it goes through this continuous system, it can be a liquid (water), a gas (vapour) or a solid (ice).

So, are all you budding young geographers ready to learn some splashing new facts? Then join NG KiDS as we take a look at the different stages of the wonderful water cycle...


The Water Cycle


Evaporation


Energy from the sun heats up the surface of the Earth, causing the temperature of the water in our rivers, lakes and oceans to rise. When this happens, some of the water 'evaporates' into the air, turning into a gas called 'vapour'. Plants and trees also lose water to the atmosphere through their leaves. This process is known as 'transpiration'.


Condensation


As water vapour rises up high into the sky, it cools and turns back into a liquid, forming clouds. This process is called 'condensation'. Currents high up in the air move these clouds around the globe.


Did you know?

The water cycle is also known as the 'hydrologic cycle'.


Precipitation


When too much water has condensed, the water droplets in the clouds become too big and heavy for the air to hold them. And so they fall back down to Earth as rain, snow, hail or sleet, a process known as 'precipitation'. 


Collection


The fallen precipitation is then 'collected' in bodies of water - such as rivers, lakes and oceans - from where it will eventually evaporate back into the air, beginning the cycle all over again. How it is collected, depends on where it lands...

- Some will fall directly into lakes, rivers or the sea, from where it will evaporate and begin the cycle all over again.

- If the water falls on vegetation, it may evaporate from leaves back into the air, or trickle down to the ground. Some of this water may then be taken up by the plant roots in the earth. 

- In cold climates, the precipitation may build up on land as snow, ice or glaciers. If temperatures rise, the ice will melt to liquid water and then soak into the ground, or flow into rivers or the ocean.

- Water that reaches land directly may flow across the ground and collect in the oceans, rivers or lakes. This water is called 'surface run-off'. Some of the precipitation will instead soak (or 'infiltrate') into the soil, from where it will slowly move through the ground until eventually reaching a river or the ocean. 


And there you have it, gang - the ongoing water cycle!


Did you know?

Water can change from a solid to a gas, without becoming a liquid first. Through this process of 'sublimation' our planet's ice can evaporate directly into the air without melting!


 



Illustration: Getty Images UK

Your Comments

bruh2
cooooool
Annikin_Skywalker
This is !
Annikin_Skywalker
This is cool!
Kitty-Kat
Boring
Annikin_Skywalker
This is cool
JefferyTheThird
Super
winter
i did not know that.
LoLcOoLsWaG
LOL! hehehehehehehheheheh nope im not a stereotype
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bAD
yoboi
hhhhhhhhhhi
ethaniscool
loveit
Simone Rudz-Asiamah
Great! Very useful! But play animal jam by national geographic too!
PP&J_17
I loved it I learned so much!
PP&J_17
I love it! It helped me learn! About the water cycle I didn't know it was that completely amazing what water dose.
Me9
I have learned it before and its great to know!
b2007
You guys are the best.I never knew there was a water cycle
Gheex
fun and interesting to learn
b2007
COOL ,you guy really did a good job
jacke
It alsom
Kiah7
Epic
Kiah7
Thanks was a some Epic
starOrhewere
I learnt this at senior school
awesome100
awesommmmmmmmmmmeeeeeee
ben1234
very good website
Largueza
You are smart i like people who are smart nice :)
LolaYe4ABIBS
Landry Cain
I didn't know the water cycle was that amazing
Im 8
I love this website!!!!! who ever the people are that made national geographic website, your amazing you make one off the best websites ever!!!
JWBMacaroni18
INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hanne-Lise
Cool
jimbob154
cool
ShockLegends
nicee
PB8
Interesting
Magneto
Save nature
Grace678984
This is a good because you come to learn from others.
EMH
3 cheers for our water cycle!
MADIS0
this website is epic it helps with everything and i dont know what i would do without it thanks for reading!!!
Sharp
I love water fishy would die if there's no water
Sharp
Water cycle is awesome I love it!!!
Sharp
Water cycle is awesome it makes plants healthy
Sharp
Water cycle are best it makes the earth all healthy
Sharp
Water cycle will be the king lol
AmberB
this was AMAZING and full of info!! THANK YOU!! :)
RiverBrewer
Cool
eliphant8457
........
turtlebeak
I did a water cycle song at shool
girrarfeameliaWHITE
I LOVE ANIMALS AND ESPESIALY GIRRAFES
girrarfeameliaWHITE
LOVE GIRAFFES !!! SENICE TOO ANIMALS TOO WATER ASWELL I LOVE ANIMAL JAM
Lucinda
COOOOLLLLL
Zeusedema
weird but cool!
emily1212
Cool!
Pizzaisyummy
Water cycle = AWESOME
Matilda Rennie
The water cycle is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!
123cool
thats amazing
Science_Gal
Cool
AnimalJamRules
I love the water-cycle! I also love the diagram!!! SO AWESOME!!! I need to read this another time!!!
aanchal
that was interesting
Aishah
AWSOME!
Aishah
That's so awesome
Carissa
I really like how you explain what is a water cycle
Known-ledgegirl
I never knew what I know now.
321natiogeo
AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IT IS ALL IN CAPITALS BECAUSE MY KEY BOARD IS BROKEN
Ella8
I love the water cycle and it was good to learn new things.
HK2525
I didn't know that much! Good Facts!
Cora
Cool! never know it worked like that! Good animation!
amy
cool i didn't know water worked like that
bird
wow!!!!! this will help with my scool worl!!!!!
twigs
cool. I didn't know the water cycle worked like that!
rahnifa
cool i love the word evaporation
Maryam
Very interesting and awsome!
Sylvia
I like the graphic explains the water cycle so well.
Violet
I learnt about this at school... And it is really interesting
Troy
I liked the facts about the water cycle!
Ria
This informmation is really interesting!

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