The water cycle is the path that all water follows as it moves around Earth in different states. Liquid water is found in oceans, rivers, lakes, and underground. Solid water is found as snow or ice. The gaseous form of water is found as water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere.
To better understand the water cycle…
LET’S BREAK IT DOWN!
The Cycling of Water
Earth’s water is continuously being moved on, above, and below the surface of Earth. Water is always changing states between liquid, gas (vapor), and solid (ice). Water moves and cycles between the ocean, atmosphere, and land. Water evaporates from the surface of Earth, rises into the atmosphere, cools and condenses, and falls again to the surface as precipitation.
The water falling on land moves along the surface in rivers and streams and collects in bodies of water such as lakes and oceans. Most water that falls on the land soaks into the ground, where it can spend long periods of time trapped in the spaces between rocks and soil. Groundwater is the source of water for plants to grow, and humans have relied on groundwater as a drinking source for thousands of years.
All matter is made of tiny moving particles called molecules. All matter can move from one state to another. The three normal states of matter are solid, liquid, and gas. However, some matter may require extreme temperatures and pressures in order to change states. Water, like all states of matter, requires the addition or removal of energy to change states. When heat energy is added to water, ice melts into a liquid and liquids evaporate into a gas. When heat is removed, gas condenses to a liquid and liquids crystallize into a solid.
Phase changes between the states of matter happen when you reach certain points of temperature and pressure. Water has a freezing and melting point of 0°C or 32°F. The freezing point is when liquid water turns to solid ice, and the melting point is when solid ice turns to liquid water. These are the same two transitions of states of matter between a solid and a liquid. Water has a boiling and condensation point of 100°C or 212°F. The boiling point is when liquid water turns into a gas, and the condensation point is when gas turns into a liquid. These are the two transitions of states of matter between liquid water and the gas form of water (called water vapor).