Vann, voda, vesi, aqua…water! No matter which way you flip it, turn it, roll it we need it! Water is the driving force behind many processes in this world, but where does it come from and where is it going…water, water are you doing?
Water moves in a cycle or a process that repeats itself. Basically, the water we see in the world is recycled. Let’s start with condensation. Condensation is the process where water vapor, like steam, is changed into liquid water, like we would drink out of a cup. When these water droplets combine with dust, salt, or other particles in the air they form clouds! As clouds continue to get larger and acquire more water droplets they could produce precipitation, the next phase in our cycle!
Precipitation is the means by which water falls from the sky! The water is not necessarily in liquid form. It could be in solid form too, like snow, sleet, or hail! Once the water reaches land it percolates. Percolation is the process by which the water makes its way through the ground. It seeps through the soil and makes its way to underground aquifers, big pools of water underground! Not all water has time to percolate. After water precipitates it can either land in a body of water, like a river or a creek, or makes it can make its way to a body of water through run off. Run off is when water rolls across the earth until it reaches a body of water. We have reached the next phase of the water cycle, transportation! Once all the water is together it is transported, or moved, to the ocean…eventually.
Once the water makes its way to the ocean, and sometimes even before, the water makes its way to the next phase of our cycle. Liquid water that is floating along in our streams and ocean can be changed into water vapor through a process called evaporation. This water vapor returns to the sky and eventually condenses into clouds, and just like that we are back at the beginning, right?! Not so fast, remember that water that was hanging out in our aquifer? Well that water can be transported and eventually makes its way into another body of water or plants can take it up through their roots! Plants need the water to help with processes like photosynthesis. Plants also give off water through their pores, this liquid water is changed into water vapor in a process called transpiration. The water vapor returns to the sky and eventually condenses into clouds, and just like that we are back at the beginning, for real this time!
The water we drink today could have rained down on the Earth millions of years ago, or maybe been a cloud just yesterday. The water we have is all the water we get! That is way it is really important that we take steps to protect our water from becoming contaminated with pollutants that hurt us and other organisms. Things like riparian buffers, construction and factory regulations can all help ensure that our water stays nice a clean! Clean water makes for happy and healthy organisms of all shapes and size, including humans. Let’s make sure we are doing our part! I have two challenges for you! Number 1: learn about a pollutant that may be affect water in your neighborhood. Number 2: make a lifestyle change or take an action that will help protect our water for future generations!