The hydrologic cycle
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THE HYDROLOGIC CYCLE. A true cycle with no beginning or end…. Nice and Simple. The Hydrologic Cycle. Defined as the movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth. Describes condensation of water vapor and formation of cloud droplets and eventually precipitation.

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A true cycle with no beginning or end
Atrue cycle with no beginning or end…

The hydrologic cycle1
The Hydrologic Cycle

  • Defined as the movement of water on, above, and below the surface of the Earth.

  • Describes condensation of water vapor and formation of cloud droplets and eventually precipitation.

Three main elements of h2o cycle
Three Main Elements of H2O Cycle

  • Evaporation

  • Condensation

  • Precipitation

Evaporation transpiration
EVAPORATION (Transpiration)

  • The process of transforming liquid water from the oceans and the soil to water vapor.

  • Water vapor is an invisible odorless gas that enters the atmosphere.


  • The process of changing water vapor back to liquid water.

  • The process of forming cloud droplets.

    • As water vapor rises, temperature decreases in the atmosphere and condensation begins in the formation of tiny cloud droplets.


  • Cloud droplets collide and coalesce with neighboring cloud droplets.

  • As they grow in size and weight, cloud droplets form precipitation which falls from the sky as

    • liquid water particles (rain)

    • solid water particles (snow and hail)

Other processes
Other Processes...

  • Freezing

  • Melting

  • Sublimation

    Sublimation is the phase change from solid to gas minus the intermediate step of forming liquid.

    • For example: The change from snow or ice to gaseous water vapor without the step of liquid water formation.

Cloud formation
Cloud Formation

  • Clouds are visible masses of condensed droplets or frozen crystals suspended in the atmosphere.

  • Clouds are divided into two main categories

    • Convective or


      (in latin: piled up)

    • Layered or Stratus

      (in latin: layer)

Location of clouds in atmosphere
Location of Clouds in Atmosphere

  • Cumulus and stratus clouds are divided into four more groups that distinguish the altitude location of the cloud.

    • LOW (up to 6,500 ft.)

      • Stratus, nimbostratus, cumulus and stratocumulus

  • Characteristics of cumulus clouds

    • Dense

    • White and puffy (like cotton balls)

    • Associated with good weather

Locations continued
Locations continued...

  • LOW clouds (up to 6,500 ft.)

  • Characteristics of stratus clouds

    • Dark gray

    • Low lying

    • Uniformly stratified or layered covering the whole sky

    • Usually associated with rain

  • MIDDLE clouds (6,500-16,500 ft.)

    • Begin with prefix “alto”

    • Includes alto stratus and altocumulus

High clouds
High Clouds

  • Above 16,500 ft.

    • In the cold region of the troposphere

    • Begin with prefix “cirro” or cirrus

    • Often whispy or transparent

  • At this altitude, water freezes so the clouds are almost always composed of ice crystals.

  • High clouds include cirrus, cirrostratus, and cirrocumulus.

  • Aircraft contrails form in this altitude range.


  • Activity: “It’s Time to Get Cirrus With Clouds”