Water Science School

Surface Water

The world's surface-water resources—the water in rivers, lakes, and ice and snow—are vitally important to the everyday life of not only people, but to all life on, in, and above the Earth. And, of course, surface water is an intricate part of the water cycle, on which all life depends.

All Surface Water Science Topics

All Surface Water Science Topics

View a list of all of our science topics about surface water.

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Surface Water and the Water Cycle

Surface Water and the Water Cycle

The various forms of surface water are integrals parts of the natural water cycle.

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Filter Total Items: 35
Date published: June 12, 2019
Status: Completed

Streamflow and the Water Cycle

What is streamflow? How do streams get their water? To learn about streamflow and its role in the water cycle, continue reading.

Note: This section of the Water Science School discusses the Earth's "natural" water cycle without human interference.

Date published: April 5, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Science Photo Galleries

Learn about water using pictures

Date published: April 4, 2019
Status: Completed

The Water Science School -- What We Offer

The U.S. Geological Survey's Water Science School
Where anyone of any age can learn all about water.

Date published: April 2, 2019
Status: Completed

La Ciencia del Agua para Escuelas

La Ciencia del Agua para Escuelas

Date published: March 21, 2019
Status: Completed

Surface Water Questions & Answers

Our planet is covered in water. We see it in our oceans and on land we see it in our lakes and rivers. The vast amount of water on the Earth's surface is in the oceans, and only a relatively small amount exists as fresh surface water on land. Yet, it is vitally important to all life on Earth. Here at the Water Science School we have the answers to your questions about surface water.

Date published: December 10, 2018
Status: Completed

Surface Water Photo Gallery

Learn about surface water using pictures.

Date published: December 3, 2018
Status: Completed

Base Flow in Rivers

When a drought hits and little or no rain has fallen in a long time, you might expect small streams and even larger rivers to just dry up, right? In many cases, they don't. Streamflow might lessen to a trickle or so, but water continues to flow. How is that possible? Read on to find out how "base flow", which is water seeping into the stream from groundwater, helps keep water in streams during...

Date published: November 8, 2018
Status: Completed

Surface Water Information by Topic

Surface water is the most recognizable part of the water cycle that we can see. Lakes and rivers may be the first types of surface water that come to mind but don't forget those snowbanks in your front yard! We think of oceans when we think of surface water but did you remember to add glaciers to your list? The Water Science School has plenty to teach you about the different types of surface...

Date published: October 26, 2018
Status: Completed

Water Science Activity Center

This is the interactive section of our site where you can answer challenge questions, participate in opinion surveys about water issues, and take true/false quizzes.

Date published: June 13, 2018
Status: Completed

How Streamflow is Measured

How can one tell how much water is flowing in a river? Can we simply measure how high the water has risen/fallen? The height of the surface of the water is called the stream stage or gage height. However, the USGS has more accurate ways of determining how much water is flowing in a river. Read on to learn more.

Date published: June 11, 2018
Status: Completed

Floods and Recurrence Intervals

A major storm or hurricane hits your area and on the radio you hear reference to a "100-year flood". But what exactly is a "100-year flood"? The term "100-year flood" is often used to describe a flood of great magnitude, but there is a lot more to it. 

Date published: June 11, 2018
Status: Completed

Rivers of the World: World's Longest Rivers

Ever wondered about what is the longest river in the world? Or in the United States? Find out here.