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Where is water formed? - The surprising answer may amaze you!


Where is water formed? - The surprising answer may amaze you!

Where is water formed?
Where is water formed?

When you’re standing in the shower and you have no idea where the water comes from, it’s easy to wonder about the major sources of water on Earth. Is it raining? The faucet? An underground spring? In fact, most of the water we use comes from the ocean! This may surprise you, but let’s dive into the processes that transform water into all the water that is on our planet, and how life itself depends on the availability of water.

An introduction to water

Water exists in many states, namely liquid water, solid ice, and gaseous steam. On our planet, we are able to find all of these forms of H2O at any given time. All living beings on Earth depend on water to survive and as a matter of fact, there would be no life if it weren’t for water. 

Scientists believe that nearly one-third of all living things are made up of mostly water with varying numbers of hydrogen and oxygen atoms to bind them together. All plants and animals require water for survival; their cells need to maintain fluid balance by constantly absorbing or releasing moisture. It also turns out that nearly every chemical reaction in the body needs water to take place, including digestion, metabolism, and waste elimination. 

If humans do not drink enough water throughout the day, then our bodies will eventually become dehydrated. When this happens, some of our major organs will malfunction because they cannot function properly without enough fluids. One of the first things that happen when someone becomes dehydrated is a reduction in urine production. 

As such, this person will feel thirsty more often and may experience dizziness, dry mouth, headaches, and nausea. Dehydration can also lead to muscle cramps due to decreased perspiration from an overworked sweat gland. For example, soldiers who work under high temperatures without drinking enough water are at risk for heat stroke.

Where does it come from?

Most of Earth’s water comes from three primary sources: 

Polar ice caps, groundwater, and direct precipitation. These sources each provide slightly more than one-third of Earth’s total annual water supply. In addition to these three major sources, volcanic activity and erosion can also be contributing factors in global water circulation. Overall, these processes cycle almost twice as much freshwater as saltwater on our planet—so it might not be a surprise that more than half of us live within 60 miles of a coastline. 

How does the process work?

As rain falls through the atmosphere, it cools the air around it and causes moisture to condense into droplets. These droplets then collect dirt particles, other pollutants, and trace minerals before they are deposited on land or bodies of water as rain or snow. Groundwater collects over time through rainfall percolating down through soil or sand, which makes up about 20% of Earth's freshwater supply. 

Polar ice caps store frozen water from ancient glaciers and sea ice, with the former accounting for 10% of Earth's yearly fresh water storage. Direct precipitation accounts for close to 50% of Earth's yearly fresh water supply and includes both rain and snowfall; this means that wherever there is sufficient precipitation, there will also be an adequate supply of surface water.

How much do humans contribute?

Many people assume that humans are most responsible for water on Earth. While it’s true that we do contribute a large portion of total water, nearly 75% of it isn’t usable by humans. On Earth, there are two primary sources of water: ground and surface waters. Groundwater includes both fresh groundwater and saline groundwater. Groundwater is collected in natural reservoirs such as aquifers, under the earth's surface. Surface water includes all fresh water from lakes, rivers, streams, and icecaps which cover about 3% of the earth's surface. 

We also have the hydrologic cycle which relies on solar energy to evaporate water from oceans or other large bodies of water like ponds or lakes. These vaporized water molecules can then form clouds and rain back down to Earth. They can eventually return to the same body of water they started out from. Water is recycled in this way over many years until it reaches an ocean again where evaporation will occur once more. 

It is estimated that only 1% of all water goes through this cycle. Humans themselves contribute to the use of dams, pumps, and wells for irrigation and drinking purposes. Ultimately though, humans aren't the biggest contributor to water on Earth.

Is there enough water for everyone?

Water covers about 70% of Earth’s surface, but only a small portion is fresh water—the rest consists of saltwater. Only 3% of Earth’s freshwater, which contains 50 times more energy than all fossil fuels combined, is easily accessible for drinking and farming. Water in its liquid form makes up approximately 1% of our planet’s total mass—and, while that may seem like a lot, all but 0.001% resides in ice or subterranean aquifers. In other words, 99.999% of the water on Earth is inaccessible to humans without being processed first. 

Of this remaining amount, over 75% evaporates from land areas as part of the natural cycle called transpiration: the release of moisture from plants into the atmosphere through their leaves. That’s why it’s so important to be sure to replace any water that is lost by evaporation with rainfall or irrigation. 

The second major process involved in creating the water on Earth is condensation, which occurs when air containing humidity cools down. As it does so, droplets of water will collect at points where the air becomes cooler and denser such as cold surfaces or rainclouds.

What can be done if there is a shortage?

Although we have a general idea about where Earth’s water comes from, there are still questions as to what happens when all of it disappears. Here we’ll outline some of these ideas and explain why science believes that life on Earth would survive if all land-based ice on our planet suddenly disappeared. There are three types of water in the world: frozen in glaciers, locked up in the ground (in aquifers), and high up in the atmosphere. If we were to somehow remove all glacier ice from the Earth's surface, sea levels around the world would rise by 220 feet (65 meters). 

However, this increase in the ocean level would happen very slowly; over many years or decades because most of this melted ice will go into raising sea levels gradually. Similarly, an asteroid large enough to cause an extinction event would be unlikely to leave much water in its wake either. Even if all of the world's liquid fresh water was reduced by 50%, the oceans alone could provide sufficient drinking water for humans for at least 10 years before people might start running out. 

But what if every drop of fresh water on Earth vanished? Is life really possible without any liquid water left anywhere? Well, here is the incredible thing: A considerable amount of bacteria, plants, and animals can thrive just fine with no free-standing water at all.


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