At a Glance: The Water Cycle

Video Player

Video Versions

This video explains how the temperature and pressure on Earth allow water to change easily between its solid, liquid, and gas phases. 

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with the NASA Earth Observatory.

All images, illustrations, and videos courtesy of NASA except:
·       Dinosaur illustration courtesy of Mariana Ruiz Villarreal
·       Sea creature illustration copyright The National Library of Israel, Shapell Family Digitization Project _and The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Department of Geography – Historic Cities Research Project
·       Waterfall photos courtesy of Wikimedia users Karduelis and MattiPaavola
·       Molecule illustration by Marc Lussier (STScI) based on illustration by Luis Javier Rodriguez Lopez
·       Photo of water droplets on leaf courtesy of Thomas Bresson
·       Photo of ocean waves courtesy of Sean O’Flaherty
·       Photo of beach on the Pacific Ocean courtesy of Wikimedia user Marlith
·       “All the Water on Earth” animation by Jack Cook, copyright Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
·       Photo of artesian spring courtesy of Marc Averette
·       Photo of Santa Lucia Cloud Forest in Ecuador courtesy of Hettie van Nes
·       Photo of red panda courtesy of Jennifer Dunne
·       Photo of Graylag goose courtesy of David Graus
·       Photo of pail of dirty water copyright Pierre Holtz, UNICEF
·       Photo of bottled water on store shelf courtesy of Ivy Main
·       Photo of water park courtesy of Wikimedia user Stu pendousmat
·       Photo of pivot irrigation system courtesy of Gene Alexander, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
·       Photo of Arizona golf course courtesy of Bernard Gagnon
·       Panoramic photo of Glen Canyon Dam courtesy of Christian Mehlführer
·       Photo of man at terminus of Colorado River copyright Peter McBride, The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict
·       Photo of dry riverbed of Colorado River copyright Peter McBride, The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict
·       Photo of boy drinking from well courtesy of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Eric Kreps
·       Photos of artesian wells courtesy of Michael Gäbler, Père Igor, and Wikimedia user Nikater
·       Photos of a spring in Indiana courtesy of Huw Williams
·       U.S. groundwater map created by Chris Poulsen, National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, _based on data from Matt Rodell, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and the GRACE science team
Music courtesy of Associated Production Music
Written by Tracy Vogel
Designed by Marc Lussier

Stars behind the Earth. Text, at-a-GLANCE, THREE PHASES OF WATER
On Earth, water exists as a solid, a liquid, and a gas.
A series of ocean waves
Molecular formations. Text, Solid, Liquid, Gas. The temperature and pressure on Earth allow water to change easily between these phases.
A red and blue arrow move through a cross-section of the landscape. Text, These changes are part of the water cycle.
Men on an ice floe. Text, Solid. Ice has a fixed shape and volume. The water molecules in ice are arranged in a specific pattern, forming crystals.
Blue water around a piece of land. Text, Liquid. Water has a definite volume, but not a fixed shape. It takes the shape of its container.
The molecules in liquid water are close together, but are not arranged in a specific pattern. They can slide easily past one another.
White clouds over the ocean. Text, Gas. Water vapor expands to fill the space around it.
The molecules in water vapor are far apart and move past one another easily.