Water Cycle

Groundwater is one component of the water cycle.  Other components of the water cycle include:

Condensation

Water molecules gather together forming clouds that eventually produce rain or other types of precipitation.

Precipitation

Rain, snow, sleet, hail – any form of water that falls to the Earth is precipitation.

Runoff

As precipitation or snowmelt runs off hills some will form streams and rivers.

Storage

Lakes are one form of storage.  Snow and ice are another. 99% of the fresh water on Earth is stored in glaciers! In our arid climate the snow pack of the Cascade mountains is known as the sixth reservoir. It’s ‘water’ we don’t have space to store, but if it melts slowly enough it replenishes water in reservoirs allowing farmers to irrigate through the summer months.

Evaporation

Water warms and evaporates off lakes and oceans, rising up into the atmosphere.

Evapotranspiration

Plants and trees take water up in their roots and release water through their respiration or “breathing” process. This is why it’s more humid in forested climates.

This US Geological Survey Website has a great graphic to show the water cycle.