Pour yourself a glass of water and take a sip. Did you know that the water you’ve just swallowed is the same water that wooly mammoths, King Tutankhamun and the first humans drank? That’s because Earth has been recycling water for over 4 billion years!

The world’s water moves between lakes, rivers, oceans, the atmosphere and the land in an ongoing cycle called – you guessed it! – the water cycle. As it goes through this continuous system, it can be a liquid (water), a gas (vapour) or a solid (ice).

So, are all you budding young geographers ready to learn some splashing new facts? Then join NG KiDS as we take a look at the different stages of the wonderful water cycle…

water cycle


Evaporation

Energy from the sun heats up the surface of the Earth, causing the temperature of the water in our rivers, lakes and oceans to rise. When this happens, some of the water “evaporates” into the air, turning into a gas called “vapour“. Plants and trees also lose water to the atmosphere through their leaves. This process is known as “transpiration“.

Condensation

As water vapour rises up high into the sky, it cools and turns back into a liquid, forming clouds. This process is called “condensation“. Currents high up in the air move these clouds around the globe.

water cycle

The water cycle is also known as the “hydrologic cycle“.

Precipitation

When too much water has condensed, the water droplets in the clouds become too big and heavy for the air to hold them. And so they fall back down to Earth as rain, snow, hail or sleet, a process known as “precipitation“.

Collection

The fallen precipitation is then “collected” in bodies of water – such as rivers, lakes and oceans – from where it will eventually evaporate back into the air, beginning the cycle all over again. How it is collected, depends on where it lands…

  • Some will fall directly into lakes, rivers or the sea, from where it will evaporate and begin the cycle all over again.
  • If the water falls on vegetation, it may evaporate from leaves back into the air, or trickle down to the ground. Some of this water may then be taken up by the plant roots in the earth.
  • In cold climates, the precipitation may build up on land as snow, ice or glaciers. If temperatures rise, the ice will melt to liquid water and then soak into the ground, or flow into rivers or the ocean.

Water that reaches land directly may flow across the ground and collect in the oceans, rivers or lakes. This water is called “surface run-off“. Some of the precipitation will instead soak (or “infiltrate”) into the soil, from where it will slowly move through the ground until eventually reaching a river or the ocean.

And there you have it, gang – the ongoing water cycle!

 

water cycle

Water can change from a solid to a gas, without becoming a liquid first. Through this process of “sublimation” our planet”s ice can evaporate directly into the air without melting!

Illustration: Getty Images UK
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COMMENTS

  • John cena

    I'm so much smarter now

  • Alex

    I never knew that solid can turn in to gas without melting

  • Keisha

    I know the water cycle but I did not know that the planet has been recycling water for over 4 billion years.

  • Rima Raad

    I like National Geographic kids it has lots and of facts.

  • Zara

    I think the story of the water cycle is amazing

  • bruh2

    cooooool

  • JefferyTheThird

    Super

  • Annikin_Skywalker

    This is cool

  • Kitty-Kat

    Boring

  • Annikin_Skywalker

    This is cool!

  • Annikin_Skywalker

    This is !

  • LoLcOoLsWaG

    LOL! hehehehehehehheheheh nope im not a stereotype

  • winter

    i did not know that.

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    bAD

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    hhhhhhhhhhi

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    loveit

  • Simone Rudz-Asiamah

    Great! Very useful! But play animal jam by national geographic too!

  • PP&J_17

    I loved it I learned so much!

  • PP&J_17

    I love it! It helped me learn! About the water cycle I didnt know it was that completely amazing what water dose.

  • Me9

    I have learned it before and its great to know!

  • Gheex

    fun and interesting to learn

  • b2007

    You guys are the best.I never knew there was a water cycle

  • b2007

    COOL ,you guy really did a good job

  • Kiah7

    Thanks was a some Epic

  • Kiah7

    Epic

  • jacke

    It alsom

  • starOrhewere

    I learnt this at senior school

  • awesome100

    awesommmmmmmmmmmeeeeeee

  • ben1234

    very good website

  • Largueza

    You are smart i like people who are smart nice :)

  • Landry Cain

    I didnt know the water cycle was that amazing

  • Im 8

    I love this website!!!!! who ever the people are that made national geographic website, your amazing you make one off the best websites ever!!!

  • JWBMacaroni18

    INTERESTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Hanne-Lise

    Cool

  • jimbob154

    cool

  • ShockLegends

    nicee

  • PB8

    Interesting

  • Magneto

    Save nature

  • Grace678984

    This is a good because you come to learn from others.

  • EMH

    3 cheers for our water cycle!

  • MADIS0

    this website is epic it helps with everything and i dont know what i would do without it thanks for reading!!!

  • Sharp

    I love water fishy would die if theres no water

  • Sharp

    Water cycle will be the king lol

  • Sharp

    Water cycle are best it makes the earth all healthy

  • Sharp

    Water cycle is awesome it makes plants healthy

  • Sharp

    Water cycle is awesome I love it!!!

  • AmberB

    this was AMAZING and full of info!! THANK YOU!! :)

  • RiverBrewer

    Cool

  • eliphant8457

    ........

  • turtlebeak

    I did a water cycle song at shool

  • girrarfeameliaWHITE

    LOVE GIRAFFES !!! SENICE TOO ANIMALS TOO WATER ASWELL I LOVE ANIMAL JAM

  • girrarfeameliaWHITE

    I LOVE ANIMALS AND ESPESIALY GIRRAFES

  • Lucinda

    COOOOLLLLL

  • emily1212

    Cool!

  • Zeusedema

    weird but cool!

  • Pizzaisyummy

    Water cycle = AWESOME

  • Matilda Rennie

    The water cycle is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 123cool

    thats amazing

  • Aishah

    AWSOME!

  • Aishah

    Thats so awesome

  • AnimalJamRules

    I love the water-cycle! I also love the diagram!!! SO AWESOME!!! I need to read this another time!!!

  • Science_Gal

    Cool

  • aanchal

    that was interesting

  • Carissa

    I really like how you explain what is a water cycle

  • Known-ledgegirl

    I never knew what I know now.

  • 321natiogeo

    AWESOME !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC IT IS ALL IN CAPITALS BECAUSE MY KEY BOARD IS BROKEN

  • Ella8

    I love the water cycle and it was good to learn new things.

  • HK2525

    I didnt know that much! Good Facts!

  • Cora

    Cool! never know it worked like that! Good animation!

  • amy

    cool i didnt know water worked like that

  • bird

    wow!!!!! this will help with my scool worl!!!!!

  • twigs

    cool. I didnt know the water cycle worked like that!

  • rahnifa

    cool i love the word evaporation

  • Maryam

    Very interesting and awsome!

  • Sylvia

    I like the graphic explains the water cycle so well.

  • Violet

    I learnt about this at school... And it is really interesting

  • Troy

    I liked the facts about the water cycle!

  • Ria

    This informmation is really interesting!

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