The concept of recycling has its foundation in nature where nothing is left as waste and everything is used again and again. This is the very basis through which nature maintains a balance. Nowhere is it more apparent than in the aspect of water cycle. Here the water undergoes various processes so that no amount of water is discarded as waste. The cycle starts with the evaporation of water from the oceans to the atmosphere from where it falls on earth as rain and then seeps back to the oceans or groundwater systems and the process continues again and again. This continuous cycle is also known as the hydrologic cycle. Such balance ensures that nature is the ultimate conserver and recycler and any disruption in the process can have catastrophic consequences. Given below in the article are the various steps in the water cycle.
Hydrologic Cycle Steps
In the first step, the large and small water bodies like ocean, rivers and lakes are heated by the sun. As a result, the top surface of the water turns to vapor or steam, which is the gaseous form of water and rises up in the air. This process is also known as evaporation, which is the process of converting water to water vapor through the action of heat.
After the hot air rises above the earth’s hot atmosphere, it cools down to form tiny water droplets. These tiny water droplets then attach to each other forming clouds. The process involved here is known as condensation. This is the reverse of evaporation where the vapor reconverts to water as a result of cooling.
Due to continued evaporation and condensation, clouds start increasing in size. As a result, the clouds become more and more heavy. When the clouds become too heavy, water falls down as rain, snow, sleet or hail. This process is known as precipitation where in the water comes back to the earth.
The process in this step is known as runoff. The water that reaches the earth in the form of rain then flows back into the rivers, lakes and other water bodies. In the end, the water reaches the ocean and seas. The oceans and the sea are the biggest source of evaporation and most of the water that falls back to the earth find their way to these reservoirs. This is known as runoff. However, some of the water also stays in the earth’s surface.
In the last step, the water reaches the underground reservoirs. These natural reservoirs are known as aquifers. Thus, this process is known as percolation. The cycle begins again from step one to step five and so on. A complete water cycle takes about nine days. This is a very important step, as it is only because of percolation that the groundwater level is maintained.