water cycle

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Related to water cycles: nitrogen cycle, carbon cycles

water cycle

the circulation of the earth's water, in which water evaporates from the sea into the atmosphere, where it condenses and falls as rain or snow, returning to the sea by rivers or returning to the atmosphere by evapotranspiration

Water Cycle


the continuous migration of water on earth (in its atmosphere, hydrosphere, and crust), accompanied by phase transitions of the water and possessing a more or less pronounced cyclical character.

The water cycle consists of the evaporation of water from the underlying surface and its transport by air currents from the evaporation site, condensation of water vapor, precipitation, and shifting of water in bodies of water over the land surface and within the earth’s crust. Most of the water evaporates from the oceans and returns to them; less is transported by air currents from the oceans to land. The transport of moisture evaporating from land to the oceans by air currents is slight. The water cycle is characterized quantitatively by the water balance.

A small cycle—sea (ocean) → atmosphere → sea (ocean)— and a large cycle—ocean → atmosphere → land — ocean—are distinguished according to the site of the evaporation and precipitation of water and the modes of its transport. Moisture repeatedly evaporates from the continents, is transported in the atmosphere, condenses, and again falls in the form of precipitation and again evaporates. This complex of processes is called the intracontinental cycle. An internal moisture cycle is characteristic of closed intermontane basins. The water cycle on the earth is part of the total complex of processes participating in the cycle of matter on the earth. (See alsoHYDROLOGIC CYCLE.)


water cycle

[′wȯd·ər ‚sī·kəl]
References in periodicals archive ?
They typically collect and/or treat water at the source and are designed to maximize efficiency by mimicking or taking advantage of natural water cycles.
Nevertheless, huge shortages remain in many parts of the world due to the naturally uneven distribution of the water cycle (among other factors).
Because Canada has been spared the harshest impacts (so far), we are largely unprepared for major water cycle shifts.
The physical designs of these systems are founded on a set of principles--flexibility, resilience and redundancy--which act in concert to mimic the natural water cycle.
The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) helped create the Stormwater Assessment Monitoring and Performance Program (appealingly known as SWAMP) after rapid urban growth in the 1980s, which created water cycle fluctuations that have been linked to quality Issues and the devastation of fish ecosystems.
Tokyo, May 18, 2012 - (JCN Newswire) - NEC Corporation (NEC; TSE: 6701) announced today its role as a primary contractor of "SHIZUKU" (GCOM-W1), the water cycle observation satellite under the direction of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
The funding allocated in the 2013-14 Victorian State Budget will go towards important work on water cycle research and planning, promotion of new building controls and assistance to industry with water cycle management.
Extremes linked to the water cycle, such as droughts, heavy rainfall, and floods, already cause substantial damage (e.
This requires quantification of long-term large-scale changes in key water cycle variables and estimation of the contribution from natural climate variability and external forcings, including through studies that are referred to as detection and attribution (see Stott et al.
We also discuss the challenges inherent in combining an incomplete observational record with imperfect climate models to detect anthropogenic changes in the water cycle.
It is beyond the scope of this paper to provide a full review of water cycle changes or to discuss regional changes (see Collins et al.
We also discuss how physically consistent a picture these observations draw and conclude with recommendations to ensure continued and improved ability to document the changing water cycle.