An Explanation of the Water Cycle (With Pictures and Diagrams)

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The water cycle: an explanation

Water, water, everywhere, so let's all have a drink (or so we all learned as kids, right?), but it's definitely not as easy as that these days. In honor of World Water Day (which may or may not have been today), let's sit back and enjoy an explanation of the water cycle.

Also known as the hydrologic cycle, the water cycle describes the process by which the various forms of water move about the planet in a fairly constant balance. But just because it's fairly balanced doesn't mean we have all the water we need, whenever we want it. But first, what is the cycle, really?What is the water cycle?

Like all circular items, the water cycle has no true beginning and no end, though the water changes state from liquid to solid -- as ice and snow, for example -- and as vapor. The cycle is the process by which the water, in whatever form, goes from place to place, ocean to cloud to rainwater to river and back again through a cycle of rising air currents, precipitation, runoff and a few other processes.

Keep reading to learn how the water cycle works.