What is the Water Cycle in Order?

What is a Water Cycle? What are the Different Processes in Water Cycle? What is the Last Step in the Water Cycle?
What is the Water Cycle in Order

Hydrology is the name of the branch of science that studies the water cycle in the context of physical geography. It is focused on the global origin, distribution, and characteristics of water. Water cycle knowledge and quantifiable facts are of interest to hydrologists. The science of hydrology is vast and draws data from many different fields of study to calculate the flow of water. However, is there an order to the water cycle? Nine main physical processes that together make up a wide spectrum of water movement can be used to explain the water cycle in order. To understand what is the last step in the water cycle, let’s learn in-depth about it.

1. What is Water Cycle?

Water moves from ocean to atmosphere then back to earth,
Photo by PublicDomainPictures on Pixabay

The water cycle shows how water is constantly moving above, below, and on the earth’s surface. The cycle describes the qualities of water that make it endure the numerous movements on the globe. Nine primary physical processes make up the water cycle, which keeps the flow of water on the globe constant. It is a complex system with several interconnected processes. Liquid water evaporates to make water vapour, which then condenses to form clouds and returns to earth as rain and snow. (See What are the Components of Water?)

2. What is the Water Cycle called?

The continual flow of water as it travels from the oceans to the atmosphere to the Earth and back again is referred to as the water cycle which is also called the hydrologic cycle.

3. Is there an Order to the Water Cycle?

Are you confused about this? The water cycle has a total of 9 processes but evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection are the four primary phases to understand the water cycle in order. (See What is the Main Source of Water?

4. What is the Water Cycle in Order?

Let’s understand the water cycle in order:-

  • Evaporation– It is the process through which the surface of a liquid turns into a gas. Water vapour, which surrounds us and is a significant component of the air we breathe, is created throughout the water cycle. Additionally, water vapour is a significant greenhouse gas. The Earth is insulated by greenhouse gases like water vapour and carbon dioxide, which keep the globe warm enough to support life. The sun controls the evaporation phase of the water cycle. When the sunlight interacts with liquid water on the ocean’s surface, the water turns into an invisible gas or water vapour. Wind, temperature, and the water’s density all have an impact on evaporation.
  • Condensation– The transformation of a gas into a liquid is called condensation. In the water cycle, atmospheric water vapour condenses and turns into liquid. Both at ground level and in the upper atmosphere, condensation can occur. The sun has an impact on condensation the same way it does on evaporation.
  • Precipitation- Precipitation occurs when all types of water particles fall from the sky and hit the ground surface. Due to frictional drag and gravity, liquid or solid particles found in clouds, mist, and fog fall to the earth to form precipitation. Any liquid or solid form of water that condenses in the atmosphere and descends to Earth is referred to as precipitation. Rain is not the same as fog. Fog contains water; however, it does not condense to the point of precipitation and falls to Earth. Moreover, the rain that does not reach the ground and is intercepted by local plants is called interception.
  • Infiltration- The physical process of water gradually moving through soil is known as infiltration. This phenomenon is influenced by soil surface parameters such as the porosity of the soil profile whereas soil structure, moisture content, and texture are further considerations. Through infiltration, rainwater is absorbed into the soil. Depending on the substance that the water has seeped into, the level of absorption varies by creating aquifers.
  • Percolation- Water percolates through soil and rocks under the influence of hydraulic and gravitational forces. The forces of gravity and capillarity cause all water on the earth’s surface to migrate downward to rest as groundwater below the surface. Based on the geologic boundary formations, beneath the earth’s surface and below the water table, the majority of the water movement is horizontal rather than downward.
  • Transpiration- All plants go through a process called transpiration during which water vapour is released from the holes in their leaves. Transpiration plays a crucial role in the water cycle because it allows plants to take up moisture from the soil and release it as water vapour into the atmosphere. The majority of the water absorbed by the plant is transpired into the atmosphere. 
  • Runoff- When there is more water present than the land can absorb, runoff occurs. The Earth’s groundwater is replenished by a portion of the precipitation that seeps into the earth’s creeks, streams, or ponds after flowing across the land’s surface. Most of it runs off in a downward direction. Runoff plays a critical role in maintaining the water levels of rivers and lakes as well as modifying the terrain by eroding rock and soil.
  • Storage- The global water cycle normally stores water in three places. The three locations where water is preserved are the sky, the earth’s surface, and the ground. The water that has accumulated in the atmosphere can travel quickly around the globe.

5. How many Steps are there in the Water Cycle?

Water changes its state through a variety of processes. Hence, how many steps are there in the water cycle? There are a total of nine processes which are: evaporation, condensation, precipitation, interception, infiltration, percolation, transpiration, runoff, and storage.

6. How long does the Water Cycle take?

What is the Water Cycle in Order 1
Photo by Antony Trivet on Pexels

In the process of the water cycle in order, the water molecule stays in the atmosphere for an average of 8 to 9 days. Thus, on average, a water molecule only needs 8–9 days to evaporate, enter, and then exit the sky as rain. A drop of water can stay in the ocean for about 3,000 years before evaporating into the air, but it only lingers in the atmosphere for an average of nine days before descending back to Earth. (See What is the Temperature of Water at Room Temperature?)

7. What comes First in the Water Cycle?

With evaporation, the water cycle gets started. Water at the surface is transformed into water vapour during this process. Sun heat is absorbed by water, which then vaporises. The main source of evaporation is water bodies such as oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers. Must read how long does gas take to evaporate?

8. What is the Last Step in the Water Cycle?

As you are aware of the water cycle in order, now let’s discuss what is the last step in the water cycle. The many water reservoirs in the planetary water or hydrological cycle are referred to as storage. The atmosphere, the earth’s surface, and the ground are where the majority of the water is kept. The earth’s surface is covered with lakes, seas, rivers, glaciers, and reservoirs that serve as storage which is the ultimate step in the water cycle. Storage in the earth includes aquifers, soils, and rock formations. Also, check out Do Water Towers Hold Water?

9. What is 6th Step in Water Cycle?

6th step in the water cycle in order is percolation. It is done through soil and rocks under the influence of hydraulic and gravitational forces. 

10. What is 9th Step in Water cycle?

What is the Water Cycle in Order 3
Photo by Ali Madad Sakhirani on Pexels

9th step in the water cycle is storage. Water is typically stored in three locations in the global water cycle. The sky, the surface of the earth, and the ground are the three places where water is preserved. The varied types of storage that occur above ground and underground mostly depend on the geologic factors connected to the various types of soil and rocks that are present where the storage is occurring. While soil and aquifers in rock formations are examples of subsurface storage, oceans, lakes, reservoirs, and glaciers are instances of surface storage. From one area of the earth to another, water that is stored in the atmosphere may be transported rather fast. 

The hydrologic cycle’s inherent quality of having no beginning and no end is one of its defining features. On Earth, most of the water is contained in oceans. The sun heats ocean water, which drives the water cycle. Groundwater restoration can last more than 1,400 years in places where civilisation has not yet fully developed. Extensive occurrences like floods and droughts may be brought on by the unequal flow and distribution of water throughout time, as well as the geographical distribution of water in both geographic and geologic locations. Now you must be aware of the water cycle in order. (Also read What are Geologic Features?)

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