All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full.
“Does it have water?” That’s what astronomers ask first when they discover a new planet. Why does that matter? No water, no life.
Earth is the water planet. Seventy-one percent of its surface is submerged. Most animals, including you, are 60 percent water.
Water increases the Earth’s beauty, particularly in combination with other features of the physical world:
Clouds — water vapor with sunlight
Snow — water at low temperatures
Mountain streams — water, rocks, elevation differences, and gravity
Waterfalls — rivers, streams, cliffs, and gravity
Sunsets — clouds, sunlight, and planetary rotation
Surf — water, wind, and land-wave collisions
Water sculpts our landscapes. If you think the Grand Canyon is stunning, thank water.
Water can be music to our ears — rain, surf, brooks.
Location affects water’s usefulness. Fortunately for all living creatures nature provides a never ending free distribution system.
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Ninety-seven percent of the Earth’s water is in the oceans. It’s too salty for land animals to drink. No problem.
Solar energy heats the ocean’s waters and the warmest surface water evaporates. Liquid turns to vapor and the water molecules leave the salt molecules behind. Salt water magically converts to fresh water. It’s a planet-sized distillery.
Weather systems, resulting from solar energy and pressure differences, move the water vapor over land masses. Cooler temperatures cause the vapor to condense and become too heavy to remain suspended. Rain happens.
When the rain falls on land it ends up in the soil, rivers, streams, aquifers, lakes, and ponds. Some of it freezes and ends up as ice or snow. Snow is a water storage system. It holds the water in winter when plants can’t use it and slowly releases it during the spring and summer.
Evaporation allows water to run uphill, from sea level to the top of Mount Everest and every elevation in between.
An eternal solar-powered conveyer belt delivers fresh water throughout the planet, although not uniformly. That’s why deserts and rain forests can both exist.
Water is the most recycled, renewable, sustainable, resource there is and it all happens naturally and endlessly. In your next sip of it you’ll taste the same molecules a tyrannosaurus did.
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