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The water cycle

April - 15 - 2013

Water is one of the most important elements on earth. In order for it to serve its purpose of sustaining life, it must be constantly moving. The process through which water travels around is called the water cycle. Although it is influenced by a lot of aspects the water’s journey is a continuous process. It has no beginning and no end. However, the major influences of some elements such as global warming can dis balance the cycle thus affecting the environment. In order for us to be able to protect this process we must understand the way it works.

The water cycle is not a precise process. The same molecules don’t follow the same route or the same time schedule. The main elements that affect the cycle are the heat and the wind. While journeying across the earth, water changes its physical form going from liquid to solid to gas. Furthermore the cycle is divided into four major stages: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and runoff. The first process refers to liquid water turning to gas due to intense heat. Plant transpiration is a similar process that has the same result. The condensation is the process through which water vapors rise into the atmosphere creating clouds and vapors. Precipitation occurs when a certain part of the atmosphere becomes saturated with water. It usually implies rain but it is not restricted to it. It can also come in the shape of snow, drizzle, sleet and other similar forms. Regular and moderate precipitation feeds a healthy environment nurturing crops and thus providing food. Last but not least, the runoff is the process through which water travels across the land. This process can lead water to join rivers, get stored in lakes, be manipulated by humans or it can change form during the runoff and engage in one of the previously described processes.

Although these four are the major processes, water can undergo other similar transformation such as infiltration, snow melt, subsurface flow, sublimation, advection , deposition and percolation. These processes are equally important to the water cycle and they have major impacts on the environment. For example without advection the water vapors that came from the ocean wouldn’t be able to precipitate across the land.

Although the water has been part of a balanced process so far, global warming is starting to affect it. Although the global cycle will not be affected, smaller local cycles will change. Dry areas will become even drier, impacting on the environment and urging humans to change their lifestyle. In order to restore the balance of the water cycle it is important to protect the environment and slow down the global worming process. We can do our part to slow the process, or at least not add to its unfolding by being more aware of how we use water; for instance, installing a whole house filtration system will help you save money, time and fuel spent on trips to the supermarket, while giving you access to pure water and protecting your health.

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