National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

JetStream Max: Water Cycle Poster

Water Cycle poster. Click to return to jetStream Max.

Press quality poster English | Spanish (26" x 36" - 6 mb pdf)

  1. Evaporation is the change of state of water (a liquid) to water vapor (a gas). On average, about 47 inches (120 cm) is evaporated into the atmosphere from the ocean each year.
  2. Transpiration is evaporation of liquid water from plants and trees into the atmosphere. Nearly all (99%) of all water that enters the roots transpires into the atmosphere.
  3. Sublimation is the process where ice and snow (a solid) changes into water vapor (a gas) without moving through the liquid phase.
  4. Condensation is the process where water vapor (gas) changes into water droplets (a liquid). This is when we begin to see clouds.
  5. Transportation is the movement of solid, liquid and gaseous water through the atmosphere. Without this movement, the water evaporated over the ocean would not precipitate over land.
  6. Precipitation is water that falls to the earth. Most precipitation falls as rain but includes snow, sleet, drizzle, and hail. On average, about 39 inches (980 mm) of rain, snow and sleet fall each year around the world.
  7. Deposition is the reverse of sublimation. Water vapor (a gas) changes into ice (a solid) without going through the liquid phase. This is most often seen on clear, cold nights when frost forms on the ground.
  8. Infiltration is the movement of water into the ground from the surface. Percolation is movement of water past the soil going deep into the groundwater.
  9. Surface flow is the river, lake, and stream transport of water to the oceans. Groundwater the flow of water underground in aquifers. The water may return to the surface in springs or eventually seep into the oceans.
  10. Plant uptake is water taken from the groundwater flow and soil moisture. Only 1% of water the plant draws up is used by the plant. The remaining 99% is passed back into the atmosphere.