The Water Cycle Essay Sample - Bla Bla Writing

The water cycle sounds like it is describing how water moves above, on, and through the Earth ... and it does. But, in fact, much more water is "in storage" for long periods of time than is actually moving through the cycle. The storehouses for the vast majority of all water on Earth are the oceans. It is estimated that of the 332,600,000 cubic miles (mi3) (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3)) of the world's water supply, about 321,000,000 mi3 (1,338,000,000 km3) is stored in oceans. That is about 96.5 percent. It is also estimated that the oceans supply about 90 percent of the evaporated water that goes into the water cycle.

Water Cycle Essay Sample - Bla Bla Writing

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The water cycle is all about storing water and moving water on, in, and above the Earth. Although the atmosphere may not be a great storehouse of water, it is the superhighway used to move water around the globe. There is always water in the atmosphere. Clouds are, of course, the most visible manifestation of atmospheric water, but even clear air contains water—water in particles that are too small to be seen. One estimate of the volume of water in the atmosphere at any one time is about 3,100 cubic miles (mi3) or 12,900 cubic kilometers (km3). That may sound like a lot, but it is only about 0.001 percent of the total Earth's water volume. If all of the water in the atmosphere rained down at once, it would only cover the ground to a depth of 2.5 centimeters, about 1 inch.

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The vast majority, almost 90 percent, of Earth's ice mass is in Antarctica, while the Greenland ice cap contains 10 percent of the total global ice-mass. The Greenland ice cap is an interesting part of the water cycle. The ice cap became so large over time (about 600,000 cubic miles (mi3) or 2.5 million cubic kilometers (km3)) because more snow fell than melted. Over the millenia, as the snow got deeper, it compressed and became ice. The ice cap averages about 5,000 feet (1,500 meters) in thickness, but can be as thick as 14,000 feet (4,300 meters). The ice is so heavy that the land below it has been pressed down into the shape of a bowl. In many places, glaciers on Greenland reach to the sea, and one estimate is that as much as 125 mi3 (517 km3) of ice "calves" into the ocean each year—one of Greenland's contributions to the global water cycle. Ocean-bound icebergs travel with the currents, melting along the way. Some icebergs have been seen, in much smaller form, as far south as the island of Bermuda.

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During colder climatic periods more ice caps and glaciers form, and enough of the global water supply accumulates as ice to lessen the amounts in other parts of the water cycle. The reverse is true during warm periods. During the last ice age glaciers covered almost one-third of Earth's land mass, with the result being that the oceans were about 400 feet (122 meters) lower than today. During the last global "warm spell," about 125,000 years ago, the seas were about 18 feet (5.5. meters) higher than they are now. About three million years ago the oceans could have been up to 165 feet (50 meters) higher.

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