How Does the Water Cycle Affect Weather and Climate?
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Have you ever wondered why different places of the Earth experience different weather conditions at the same time of the year?
This is one of the most amazing aspects of the Earth! So, how does it occur? To get an answer to this question, you need to understand these three things – water cycle, weather and climate.
Water Cycle, Weather & Climate
Let me begin with an astonishing information – the Earth’s water is constantly in movement. Did you know that? This movement is accomplished by its change of state that is from liquid to vapor, vapor to solid ice and solid ice to liquid again.
This circle of water has been active since the creation of the Earth and water. And we all know that water is life. That means where there is no water there is no life. So, you can probably imagine the condition of the world without this water cycle.
Now, you might ask where this water cycle starts from. Generally speaking, it is more like a loop and a continuous process. That is, there is no specific starting point.
Let’s begin with the oceans, the largest water bodies in the world. The oceans contain the most amount of the water in the Earth.
There’s one important thing you should know before we get further in to water cycle. The sun is the driving force in water cycle.
The first step here is the sun heating the water bodies in the world. As a result, a large amount of water is evaporated. This vapor reaches the atmosphere with the rising air.
In the sky, where the temperature is relatively cooler, this water vapor is condensed. And they form clouds. These clouds are drifted around the world with air currents.
When these clouds get cold enough, they again come down to the Earth as precipitation like rain and snow.
On the other hand, the ice caps and glaciers of the world are also a major source of water. These sources store water in frozen state for thousands of years.
Meanwhile, when the temperature of the Earth rises the frozen water sources melts down. And the melted water finds its way to the oceans through rivers.
You should also know that the Earth also absorbs a lot of water – from rain and rivers. The absorbed water is stored underground and called underground water. Besides, water is also stored in lakes and other water bodies as freshwater.
The underground water is also a large source of fresh water. The water from rain, rivers, lakes, etc. are soaked by the Earth and thus stored underground. And the underground water again comes to the Earth’s surface through springs.
In this way, the water keeps on moving – changing places and states. It’s more like several loops. The water returns to the place or state where it began its journey. This is water cycle.
Global Water Distribution
If you’ve understood the water cycle, you could imagine that different parts of the Earth contains different amount of water. As I’ve mentioned earlier, the oceans, rivers, ice caps and glaciers, underground water, etc. are the major sources of water.
Let’s go a little deeper. You would be amazed to learn that of the total water available in Earth around 97% is saline water. And the rest is freshwater. Can you imagine that?
Of the freshwater, around 68% is in frozen state like the ice caps and glaciers. And of the rest 32% freshwater, 30% is groundwater. That is, the rivers, lakes and other freshwater bodies consist only 0.007% of the total water!
Weather & Climate
Now, let’s have a short discussion on weather and climate.
Generally speaking, the state of atmosphere is called weather. And by weather you’ll understand how much cold or hot, dry or wet, cloudy or clear, stormy or calm an area is.
Whereas, the statistics of weather in a particular area or region over a very long period of time is called climate. The climate of a region is understood by analyzing different weather conditions in a given period of time in that particular region.
Influence of Water Cycle on Weather & Climate
As we’ve gone through the definitions of water cycle, weather and climate, let’s look at a glance how this water cycle affects the weather and climate in a particular region:
Water cycle can create more clouds in a region. Consequently, the temperature will fall.
Rainfall and snow are results of water cycle and can lead to severe weather conditions.
Excessive rainfall due to water cycle can cause floods.
Extremely low rainfall, lack of adequate water sources can lead to draught in a given region.
These are some of the basic weather conditions that are directly influenced by water cycle. And from the definition of climate, we know that the average of weather conditions in a particular area or region over a very long period of time is considered the climate of that region.
So, the weather conditions can ultimately influence the climate. Isn’t it natural that the weather of an area with colder air mass is completely different from an area with warmer air masses? And, whether the air mass should be warm or cold is also dependent on water cycle.
So, what do you think? Does the water cycle affect the weather and climate?
The simplest answer is yes. The water cycle affects the weather and climate of a particular region in multiple ways. I would say water cycle not only affects these two, but it is a major factor that determines the weather pattern and climate.