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Hydrologic Cycle. Robert K. Hall USEPA Region IX WTR-2 San Francisco, CA 94105 (415) 947-4123 Hall.robertk@epa.gov. Hydrologic Cycle. “Hydrologic cycle”—circulation and conservation of earth's water Begins with evaporation of water from earth (20%) and ocean (80%) surface

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hydrologic cycle

Hydrologic Cycle

Robert K. Hall



San Francisco, CA 94105

(415) 947-4123


hydrologic cycle1
Hydrologic Cycle
  • “Hydrologic cycle”—circulation and conservation of earth's water
  • Begins with evaporation of water from earth (20%) and ocean (80%) surface
  • As moist air rises, it cools, and water vapor condenses to form clouds
  • Moisture is transported around globe via oceanic gyres (N and S hemispheres) until it returns to surface as precipitation

Hydrologic Cycle (cont.)

  • Once water reaches the ground
    • Evaporates back into atmosphere
    • Runs off into streams and lakes, eventually back to ocean
    • Penetrates surface, becomes groundwater
  • Groundwater will
    • Seep into lakes, rivers, streams
    • Return to atmosphere through transpiration
earth s water budget
Earth’s Water Budget




Diagram adapted from: Peixoto and Kettani (1973). http://ww2010.atmos.uiuc.edu/(Gh)/guides/mtr/hyd/home.rxml


Adapted from Lynne Talley, 2000, SIO 210 Talley Topic 3: Dynamical quantities, transports and forcing






Evaporation 20%

(inland water and vegetation)

(rain, hail, sleet, snow, freezing rain)

Evaporation 10%


Surface Layer

Zone of Aeration

Ground water flow

Zone of Saturation

Evaporation 80%

Adapted from The Hydrologic Cycle. Illustration by Tom Schultz

hyporheic zone
Hyporheic Zone
  • Region beneath and lateral/adjacent to stream bed
  • Mixing of shallow groundwater and surface water
  • Hyporheic flow is important for
    • Surface water/groundwater interactions
    • Fishspawning
    • Benthic macroinvertebrate distribution and community structure
hyporheic zone cont
Hyporheic Zone (cont.)




Adapted from Hall, RK, RL Watkins, DT Heggem,

KB Jones, PR Kaufmann, SB Moore and SJ Gregory,

in review, Quantifying Structural Physical Habitat

Attributes Using LIDAR and Hyperspectral Imagery

Adapted from National park Service


ecological function
  • Natural riparian-wetland areas characterized by interactions of vegetation, soils, hydrology
  • Riparian-wetland areas function properly with adequate vegetation, landform, or large woody debris
    • Dissipates stream energy associated with high waterflows
    • Reduces erosion, improves water quality….
  • Changes in ecological function result from alterations (e.g., fire, invasive species, anthropogenic activity)
ecological function cont
Ecological Function (cont.)
  • Human influences accelerate changes in ecosystem character
  • Over time, ecosystems develop spatial patterns characteristic of human disturbance and alterations
  • Necessary to recognize
    • Different geographic patterns and
    • How they respond to alterations and resource-management activities

Illustration by Tom Schultz www.buffer.forestry.iastate.edu/Photogallery/...

riparian function
Riparian Function



Functional at Risk

impacts watershed morphology and invasive species classification humboldt river nv
Impacts: Watershed Morphology and Invasive Species Classification: Humboldt River, NV

Area shown is part of the Special Recreation Management Area Near Elko, NV

Source: BLM Nevada State Office and BAE Systems Advanced Technologies Inc.

  • Hydrologic Cycle
  • Impacts to the Hydrologic Cycle
  • Preservation
    • Tribal-oriented Best Management Practices (BMPs) to achieve ecological function