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You are probably already aware that water covers about 97 percent of the entire planet, right? Then maybe you’re familiar with the concept of the water cycle, a necessary process for life on Earth. However, you should know that the water cycle is more complicated than you think, and there are 15 components or elements in the process.

Water is never still. We’re not just talking about currents or tides, but also changes in their physical state: gaseous, liquid, and solid. The hydrological process is the process in which water moves in, on, and under the surface of the Earth, over and over again. Although it sounds simple, it forms the basis of the existence of living beings, as they use it for drinking and therefore, survival.

The Process of the Water Cycle.

We can’t say when and were the hydrological cycle begins because it never stops. However, you can take the oceans as a starting point for understanding the process.

Although usually a smaller number of steps are mentioned, there are about 15 steps or components in the water cycle:

1. Water stored in the oceans.

Most of the world’s water is in the oceans and a small percentage in glaciers and smaller bodies of water: rivers, lakes, ponds, etc. Oceans are therefore a kind of warehouse for a large quantity of the vital liquid and supply nearly 90% of the evaporate water that is part of the water cycle.

2. Evaporation.

It is a process that converts liquid water into gas or vapor, mainly due to solar radiation. This energy from the sun is essential for water to evaporate, which happens when it reaches 100°C, its boiling point.

At this stage, evaporated water joins with the transpiration of plants, so together the process is often referred to as evapotranspiration. Oceans, seas, rivers, and lakes provide nearly 90% of the moisture that evaporates, while plants provide the other 10%. In concrete terms, this state is characterized by the transformation of water into steam in the air.

The hydrological process is the process in which water moves in, on, and under the surface of the Earth, over and over again.

3. Water in the atmosphere.

At this point, the water in vapor form is contained in the atmosphere. The amount of water is still small. Imagine, if all the water in this layer of gas fell to Earth as rain, it would cover the ground with only 2.5 centimeters of water.

4. Condensation.

Water vapor in the atmosphere becomes drops of liquid water. This process creates clouds and fog, and it is the opposite of evaporation.
How does this happen? Well, the water molecules combine with dust, salt, and smoke and form tiny drops that grow and join to develop clouds; this only occurs at high altitude where there is cooler air which allows this process.

5. Precipitation.

The condensed water vapor falls to Earth’s surface as rain, snow, hail, sleet, fog drip, and snow pellets but most of the water from the clouds returns in the form of rain. All these kinds of precipitation happen due to the collision of the particles in water vapor clouds; it takes millions of cloud droplets to produce one raindrop.

6. Water stored in ice and snow.

The water cycle is not exactly a progression because some processes occur at the same time as others. Thus, the water stored in glaciers, ice fields, and snow plays a significant role in the cycle.

7. Meltwater flows into water bodies.

Frozen water flow contributes to the change and flow of rivers, creating movement and sometimes even natural disasters. However, it is a vital component of the water cycle.

8. Surface runoff.

The ground absorbs a portion of the rainwater and other precipitations. The interaction between precipitation and runoff varies according to time and geography, and can be diverted by human means according to need.

The hydrological process.
The process of the water cycle.

9. Streamflow.

The amount of water flowing in a river, stream, or creek. After rain falls, most of the water runs downhill over land in these bodies of water.

10. Stored freshwater.

Naturally, the water that ran into rivers, streams, and creeks remains in these natural “deposits” on the Earth’s surface.

Stored freshwater is vital for the survival of living organisms since physiologically, they are incapable of drinking salt water. Moreover, the amount of water in rivers and lakes is constantly changing.

11. Infiltration.

A small part of the precipitation water infiltrates the soil and rock materials. While some water remains in the most shallow layer, the rest infiltrates deeper and can replenish groundwater.

12. Groundwater discharge.

Some groundwater discharges into streams of surface water.

13. Springs.

Springs are common water bodies where groundwater flows to the surface.

14. Perspiration.

After discharge and storage, water can evaporate again through plants and re- enter the atmosphere.

15. Stored groundwater.

Water stored underground moves slowly. These aquifers are useful, last a long time, and make up a deposit that is part of the water cycle.

If you had to pick an ocean to swim, you would not pick the Arctic, right? That’s because it’s the coldest ocean on Earth, and only the species adapted to its temperature are capable of living there.
 This body of water is the smallest and shallowest of the oceans, and it is in the northern hemisphere. Still, it is 1.5 times larger than the United States. The world “Arctic” comes from the name of the constellation Arktos, which in Greek means “bear.”

Regardless its unbearable cold temperatures, this territory has been inhabited for about 20,000 years by the Inuit and the Yupik, who have physical and physiological adaptations to living in these extreme conditions.

This ocean has an area of approximately 15,558,000 square kilometers and a total of 45,389 kilometers of coastline. It covers about 3.17 percent of Earth’s surface. Its waters touch the northern regions of Alaska, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Russia, and Greenland, and it surrounds several islands. Its area includes Baffin Bay, Barents Sea, the Beaufort Sea, the Chukchi Sea, the Greenland Sea, Hudson Bay, the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea, the White Sea, Hudson Strait, the Siberia Sea and others. It connects to the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait and the Atlantic Ocean through the Greenland Sea and the Labrador Sea. Its southern boundary is the Arctic Circle, at parallel 66°33′ north.

In the Arctic, massive ice sheets of two or three meters thick float around freely, continually shifting due to winds and ocean currents. If these ice chunks collide, they form irregular lines of ice, known as pressure ridges, which can be three times as thick as the individual pieces.

In winter, the temperature fluctuates between -50°C and -1.1°C.

Properties of the Arctic Ocean.

During the summer, the ice caps are surrounded by the ocean, but in the winter they double in size. The Arctic climate is described as polar, characterized by a perennial cold. The islands have a permafrost layer, in other words, a layer of ice on the soil’s surface. Other land regions like Alaska have a tundra biome.

In the winter, the sun is conspicuously absent, the sky is clear, and weather conditions are stable, but summer has permanent sun and humid environments, occasionally pounded by cyclones and snowstorms. In winter, the temperature fluctuates between -50°C and -1.1°C and in summer, the temperature can be up to 10°C. This ocean has the lowest salinity of any ocean due to low evaporation rates and freshwater inflows.

Properties of the Arctic Ocean

The ocean floor has three main underwater ridges:


1. The Nansen-Gakkel ridge, which extends north of western Russia
.

2. The Alfa mountain ridge, a plane range with peaks of about 3,000 meters.

3. The Lomonosov Ridge, a mountain range between 3,000 to 3,700 meters high.

It is also divided into three large bodies of water, depending on the depth:

1. Arctic Deep Water, the deepest part, beginning at about 900 meters below the surface

2. Atlantic Water, found between 150-900 meters deep and having the same level of salinity as the Arctic Deep Water but warmer.

3. Arctic Surface Water, above 150-200 meters deep and is a subsurface layer with swift currents.

Economic Importance of the Arctic Ocean
.

The cold conditions do not deter the proliferation of several species there. Narwhals, walruses, belugas, seals, bowhead whales, and Lion’s Mane Jellyfishes, which grow up 2.4 meters long, inhabit the waters of this ocean. Plankton, algae, various fish species, and polar bears also live in this environment.

In the ground, there are vast deposits of oil, natural gas, and metals, which are essential resources for various countries. Its waters are navigable taking the proper care to avoid icebergs; between March and April, ice covers a large part of the ocean. This challenge has become more important as some tests indicate that it could hold more than 25 percent of the undiscovered deposits of oil and gas.

This ocean is also a maritime link between the east and western Russia and North America. However, the center of this ocean is disputed between Norway, Denmark, United States, Canada, and Russia.

Economic Importance of the Arctic Ocean.

Conservation of the Arctic Ocean.

This ocean is evidently affected by climate change as due to the rising of global temperatures, the ice layer gradually thins. The thaw could cause serious flooding in the future, burying some countries under water, pollute some territories because its high concentration of radioactive contaminants, and alter the direction of ocean currents which could cause severe weather disruptions.

Along with the above, animal species would also be affected. Some researchers think that by the year 2040, the Arctic could be entirely melted because the ice pack of this ocean shrinks by eight percent each year.

 

Quick Facts.

– It is the smallest ocean.
– The Arctic Ocean is the only home of polar bears.
– Its deepest point is the Fram Basin, which has a depth of 4,665 meters.
– It is five times larger than the Mediterranean Sea.
– During summer, its ice shrinks by 50 percent.

Photo Courtesy of NASA

Mars

The Red Planet

 

Mars is one of the eight planets found in the Solar System and it is more commonly known as The Red Planet. The Red Planet, Mars, is actually the second smallest planet and can be found fourth places away from the Sun. When the planet was first discovered, it was named after the Roman God of War Mars but it constantly was nicknamed the Red Planet.

The reason why it is called the Red Planet is because of the many particles of iron oxide in the atmosphere especially found on the surface of the planet. The particles offer a red appearance which contributes to the name. This is the forth terrestrial planet but it does have a very weak or thin atmosphere; and the surface of the planet does have a lot of impact craters. This is very similar to those found on the Moon and they can often resemble craters of valleys, deserts, and volcanoes; though Mars is a very unusual planet.

How the Planet Rotates

Mars can have a similar type of rotational period as that of Earth.  It is quite similar with its rotation as well as its seasonal cycles that the planet has; though Mars is the home place of the Olympus Mons.  The Olympus Mons is the highest mountain range in the Solar System.

Mars has a northern hemisphere; this covers almost 40 percent of the entire planet of Mars and it is called the Borealis Basin. The Red Planet does have the Deimos Moon and the Phobos Moon; both are the only known Moons Mars has. These are very odd in shape and are quite small in size too; though it is thought that the Moons of Mars that they are captured asteroids.

Up until 1965, most people believed that Mars must have had liquid water on the surface; however, the explorer Mariner 4 was sent to make a flyby of the planet and it was found that there didn’t seem to be any liquid present on the surface.  The reason why many believed the planet had liquid water present on the planet was because of the variations of the light; and there were many dark and light areas that could be seen from Earth.  This led many to believe that there was water present on the surface.

Mars Facts
Mars Planet / Photo Courtesy of NASA

Missions to Mars

Though, Mars offers an optical illusion through the light but with many unmanned flight missions, most scientists believed that there had to have been a large scale water reserve on the planet’s surface.  Most believe this to be the case but interestingly enough, back in 2005, data was collected from the planet. This data showed the presence of what scientists believed to be huge quantities of water ice. These were found at different locations of the planet including the mid latitudes as well as the poles of the planet.

In 2007, a rover was sent to the planet which collected samples from the surface of Mars.  When those samples were sent to the Earth and tested, the chemical compounds contained water molecules.  This was a huge breakthrough for many because for years, it was thought that there couldn’t possibly be any water available on the planet.

A year later in 2008, another rover was sent which saw water ice directly found in a shallow Martian piece of soil. This is exceptional information to come from the Planet because it could mean that people could fly to the planet and in fact many countries around the world are thinking about creating new missions. However, these missions would be solely for people to fly and even live on the Red Planet.  In Netherlands, there are projects to make up a space project to send 4 people up to Mars and live there for the rest of their lives!

There are in fact 5 different spacecrafts which are all functioning.  There are 3 which are in orbit right now including the Mars Express, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Mars Odyssey.  However, there are 2 which are currently on the surface of the planet including the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity and the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity.  There are other spacecrafts on the surface of the planet; however, they are no longer in use because they have served their purpose.  The Orbiter has reported that there may be flowing water possibly found during some of the warmer months on the planet.

Though, The Red Planet can be seen freely from Earth with the naked eye; and it is a wondrous site to view.

Characteristics

Mars is big however; it is not as big as what Earth is.  Its diameter is around half of the size of Earth’s and it is going to be less dense than that of Earth’s also.  It only has around 11 percent of mass and 15 percent of volume of the amount that Earth has.  Mars doesn’t have a large amount of density; it’s less than Earth’s and also the Planet Mercury even though it’s bigger than the planet.

Though it does have a very unique presentation to the surface which makes it look like an orange/red appearance; and it can be often mistaken for many other colours.

The red planet
Mars atmosphere /Photo Courtesy of NASA

The Internal Structure of the Red Planet and Its Surface

The structure of Mars is very much like Earth’s, even internally.  It is very dense but it has a metallic core which proves stability and a strong structure.  It does have iron and nickel mixed in with sulphur and its core is this.  It is also partial fluid which is surrounded with a silicate mantle; but this helped to form a lot of different volcanic features as well as tectonic plates.

Mars is going to be made up of minerals which contain things such as metals, silicon and oxygen also. There is no in fact hard evidence to say that the way the planet has been structured is going to have a global magnetic field.  There have been many observations which say that parts of Mars’s crust are magnetized but this is not hard known factual evidence.

It is not known whether or not life can be established on Mars.  Yes, there may not be any life found on Mars but there have been many studies to see if humans can live on Mars eventually.  Though, if this is the case, they would need oxygen suits because no planet has the same atmosphere as Earth where they can breathe free air without the necessity of an oxygen mask and suit.

Though, with many exploration studies, there have been a lot of things such as chlorine, magnesium, sodium and potassium found in the planet’s soil.  These are some nutrients which are found on Earth and these things are vital for plants to grow.  This might mean there is chance for some life to grow on Mars.  There might not be any available liquid water able to exist on the surface, this is because of the atmosphere pressure being too low; however, there is ice water available.  There is still so much unexplored on Mars.

Facts on Video

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Flood

What is a Flood?

 

The definition of a flood is land covered by water that is not usually covered by water. This means that any time a river, lake, or other body of water overflows its banks, it’s technically flooding. However, most people think of the more catastrophic types of floods, as those are the type that cause widespread damage and loss of life. Unless a flood causes some kind of financial damage or loss of life to humans or livestock, it’s not considered a significant flood.

There are a number of causes for floods, and the most common warning is that floods can happen anywhere it rains. Just because an area has no history of flooding doesn’t mean it can’t be flooded at some point. Some floods have happened in areas where there has been no flooding for hundreds of years, while some flooding happens on a yearly basis in some areas and countries. In general, flooding is hard to prepare for, though flood maps are drawn up and in some cases, measures are taken to prevent heavy flooding in the future.

Flooding causes

Floods cause so much damage because they’re unpredictable and many things can cause floods. There are flash floods, which happen quickly and rush through. Then there are slow floods which build up over a period of time. Either way, it’s very hard to predict exactly how much damage will be done, how to best stop the flow, and most of all, how to prevent it from happening again.

Flooded houses
Flood Facts and Information

Though there are more causes for floods, these are the most common

–Heavy rainfall: Flooding from rainfall generally happens when more rain falls than the soil, rivers, and streams can absorb. Tilled fields become swamps, creating a muddy flood which moves large amounts of sediment. When rivers and streams can no longer hold water, they start to flood their banks as the water is carried further down to the next body of water. Soil that is soaked can no longer absorb water and if the rivers are already full, the water continues to build up. Often, flooding happens on frozen or concrete ground and the rain cannot be absorbed. Often, the build up of water and debris can fill up gutters and drainage pipes making it hard for the flood waters to flow freely into the body of water.

–Melting snow and ice: Because snow and ice covers large patches of ground, as it melts, it saturates the ground as it flows into rivers and streams. The rivers are often thawing as well, making for a higher level of water as it is. Combine the melting with the rains that usually come in spring, and flooding is likely. Especially during long, harsh winters, snow and ice can build up, making for a large amount of water needing to drain out in a relatively short amount of time.

–Destruction: There are several catastrophic causes for flash floods. These are often caused by a dam or levee breaking and causing huge amounts of water to come rushing down onto the plains. The destruction of a dam or levee is often brought on by another natural disaster, such as a hurricane, cyclone, or earthquake. When a dam or levee can’t hold the water back anymore, water that is meant to be stored or held back suddenly crashes down on whatever is in its way, often causing incredible damage in its wake. Other natural disasters that can cause floods are earthquakes or volcanic eruptions which bring tsunamis. Hurricanes and cyclones often cause flooding as the large amounts of water can’t be absorbed or the fast winds cause waves to crash and flood coastal areas.

–River obstructions: There are times when development means changing the natural course of rivers. In order to clear land for crops or housing, rivers are “guided” through a different course, often creating conditions for flooding. In many areas where this happens regularly, the rivers are given back the land, so that extra water can flow easily. However, there are other times when a river gets blocked by large sections of ice, debris, or landslides. The buildup of water around these areas can cause flooding and then flash floods if the obstruction gives way. Very rarely animal habitats, such as beaver dams can cause river flooding.

Flood damages

Because so much of the damage inflicted by floods has long-lasting consequences, floods are among the more catastrophic of natural disasters. Water can cause permanent damage and cleanup after a flood includes getting rid of huge amounts of mud, debris, and even livestock carcasses.

overflow of water
Flood Disaster in Turkey, Asia

There is often loss of life as a result of heavy flooding, causing emotional trauma for those who have gone through it. Even if people have not been directly affected by the loss of life, losing property, houses, or land can cause physiological damage. Especially if the people affected are unable to rebuild due to the houses being too badly damage, farm land being inundated with salt water, or lack of resources to rebuild, many find the recovery to be more than just physical.

Damage to property during flooding is often extensive. Vehicles should not be driven through flooded areas, but often they are caught unaware, creating the need for replacement or extensive repairs. Houses that have been flooded mildly might survive with just a good cleaning, but big floods often render homes unlivable without massive repairs or restructuring. Many personal items are lost forever, such as paper documents, photographs, clothing, and household items. Furniture and woodwork are often damaged beyond repair and must be replaced entirely.

In severe floods, communication systems can fail due to lines being broken. Power is often hindered if power generators and transmission is in some way destroyed or damaged. Getting power restored after a flood is challenging as water transmits electricity and can hurt anyone standing in water. If sewage or water systems are compromised during flooding, water supplies can be contaminated. This can result in waterborne diseases such as typhoid or cholera among others.

Land that has be saturated often cannot grow new crops for some time. If the water was saline, such as in flooding near the sea, land will not be able to be cultivated for some years. Loss of livestock can also result in farmers losing their livelihood and needing to start over with young animals means losing the profit that would have come during that time. Any livelihood that depends on farming or ranching can be seriously affected by floods as farms and ranches often need to be near a body of water in order to live.

Preparation

Some precautions can be taken, such as creating flood maps and working with nature to prevent excessive flooding. In some areas levees have been built, but these are not entirely flood proof. Modern advancements in flood prediction enables people to be more prepared. These predictions won’t be able to prevent the floods, but enable people and livestock to get to safety in time. Flood warnings are taken very seriously as lives depend on it.

 

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