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Groundwater and the Water Cycle

Now that you have learned about the exciting world of groundwater, it is time to see how it fits into that endless watery process called the water cycle, also known as thehydrologic cycle.

Let's begins our tour of the water cycle when water from the earth’s soil, plants, and water bodies turns into water vapor through the process of evaporation. This invisible vapor, most of which comes from the world’s oceans, travels up into the atmosphere and condenses, forming clouds. This is called condensation. The vapors in the clouds condense more and more until they form water droplets.

More and more water vapor combines with the water droplet until it is too heavy to stay in the sky any longer. The water falls to the earth far below as precipitation. Examples of precipitation include rain, hail, sleet, and snow.

groundwater and the water cycle, animated

When the water reaches the earth’s surface, some of it will flow along the surface of the earth as runoff while the rest of it soaks into the soil--called recharge. Down, down, down the water goes through the soil until it becomes groundwater and is stored in the aquifer below.

Once the water has joined the aquifer, it doesn’t stop there. The groundwater slowly moves through the spaces and cracks between the soil particles on its journey to lower elevations. This movement of water underground is called groundwater flow.

Eventually, after years of underground movement, the groundwater comes to adischarge area where it enters a lake or stream. There, the water will once again be evaporated and begin the cycle again. Water has been transported through the water cycle for millions of years and will continue this cycle forever. In the water cycle, water is constantly on the move.

Groundwater and the  Water Cycle

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