Hydrological cycle


The water cycle , also called the hydrological cycle , is a life cycle that involves the continuous circulation of water in the Earth-atmosphere system . Of the many processes involved in the water cycle, the most important are evaporation , transpiration , condensation , precipitation, and runoff . Although the total amount of water within the cycle remains essentially constant, its distribution among the various processes is continually changing.


What is the hydrological cycle?

It is the sequence of environmental phenomena by means of which water can reach the surface of the earth, and the atmosphere in the vapor phase, returning again in its liquid and solid phases .

  • What is the hydrological cycle?
  • What is it for
  • Components (edit)
  • Stages
  • How the climate influences the hydrological cycle
  • What role does the sun play in the hydrological cycle?
  • Effects edit
  • Importance

What is the hydrological cycle?

The hydrological cycle consists of the process by which water moves inside and outside the Earth. It happens because water is in motion, changing state, for that reason we find water in a liquid , solid or gaseous state . The water cycle does not have a starting point, but the oceans are always taken as this, since that is where the greatest amount of water on Earth is found.


It begins when a portion of the water in the oceans evaporates through sunlight . This light is responsible for heating the water and makes it change state, evaporating and passing into the atmosphere along with the air. A part of this vapor comes directly from the solid state when pieces of ice and snow are subjected to a state of sublimation .

When air currents rise, water vapor goes into the atmosphere including ocean water vapor, ice, snow, and some other sources. The vapor then rises to the highest part of the atmosphere, where the air is colder . With this phenomenon, the water condenses into clouds . Different streams of water cause cloud particles to collide , grow, and fall to the ground as precipitation.

What is it for

The hydrological cycle is essential to maintain the balance of the earth’s ecosystems , and to be able to provide fresh and pure water to all living beings , thanks to the recirculation of this vital liquid. All forms of water are considered to participate in the water cycle, which is essential for the development of life on planet Earth . Basically life without water would be impossible.

Components (edit)

The components of water are as follows:

  • Precipitation : it is all the water that falls to the surface of the earth, whether in liquid form such as rain and drizzle and in solid form such as snow or hail. Hidden precipitation including dew and white frost is also included.
  • Evaporation : is the process by which liquid water turns into gas . It can only happen when water is available for the process.
  • Condensation : is the change in the state of matter from vapor to liquid that occurs when there is cooling. The process releases heat energy into the environment.
  • Perspiration : it is the evaporation that occurs through the leaves .
  • Interception : it is part of the precipitation that is intercepted by surface objects such as plant covers or roofs.


The stages of the hydrological cycle are as follows:

  • Evaporation : physical process that consists of the gradual passage from a liquid state to a gaseous state , depending on the temperature . With the intensification of the displacement, the particles reach the atmosphere and transform into vapor.
  • Condensation : it is the change of state of the water vapor in the air masses of the atmosphere to the liquid phase due to their cooling.
  • Precipitation : occurs when the relative humidity of the water vapor in the atmosphere is 100%. If the temperature is very low, the precipitation occurs as snow .
  • Runoff : it is the transit of water that circulates through adrainage basin infiltrated into the ground and causing the recharge of underground aquifers .
  • Transportation : is the movement of water masses in liquid state across the earth’s surface , forming rivers, lakes, seas and oceans.

How the climate influences the hydrological cycle

Climate models show that water will heat up depending on greenhouse gas levels . These changes will affect the quality and quantity of water that is available to humans and the environment . It is possible that when this happens, the quality of the water will be affected , droughts increase and the intensity and frequency of the rains will change drastically.

What role does the sun play in the hydrological cycle?

The function of the natural water cycle is to be an essential resource for life with a strategic value from the economic point of view. The natural cycle contributes to the regions many potentialities and starting limitations, and its availability is an indispensable requirement for the development of social and economic activities.

Effects edit

Some of the effects that can be observed by the hydrological cycle are:

  • They raise the levels of the waters of the sea.
  • There is the reduction or loss of some perennial ice or snow.
  • It produces heat waves of greater intensity and with greater frequency.
  • There are changes in the rains producing storms
  • Positive feedback from water vapor in the atmosphere.
  • Water can transport, through the hydrological cycle,  dilute solids and gases , such as carbon, nitrogen and sulfur.


The hydrological cycle is a process that is vital to sustaining life on earth. It is through it that it is possible to provide water to all the ecosystems of the planet and to the living beings that need it to survive. It allows the growth of plants, the purification of terrestrial and aquatic waters, and, through evaporation, pollutants are eliminated in order to convert the water into drinking water .

If we did not have the water cycle, substances that are harmful to health would progressively accumulate and water could no longer be consumed by humans or animals.

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