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Last edited 25 Oct 2021
This diagram of the water cycle shows how water is stored and transported across the planet.
The water cycle describes the sequence of processes that drive the movement of the earth’s water, which is constantly transforming as it goes through different states of matter - from gaseous water vapour to liquid water and sometimes ice, and back again. The water cycle (sometimes referred to as the hydrologic cycle or the hydrological cycle) has no starting point or ending point, and the total amount of water within the cycle is essentially constant.
 Characteristics of the water cycle
The Corps of Engineers - Portland District explains, “The global water cycle can be described with nine major physical processes which form a continuum of water movement. Complex pathways include the passage of water from the gaseous envelope around the planet called the atmosphere, through the bodies of water on the surface of earth such as the oceans, glaciers and lakes, and at the same time (or more slowly) passing through the soil and rock layers underground. Later, the water is returned to the atmosphere."
The water cycle is also involved in seven other processes related to geology and affiliated sciences: subduction and mineral hydration, snow melt, subsurface flow, sublimation, deposition, advection and plate tectonics.
Hydrology is concerned with the origin, distribution and properties of water on the globe and is one of the interdisciplinary sciences that is the basis for water resources development and water resources management.
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