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: 42
Date published: September 16, 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.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: July 17, 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: July 6, 2019
Status: Completed

Rain and Precipitation

Rain and snow are key elements in the Earth's water cycle, which is vital to all life on Earth. Rainfall is the main way that the water in the skies comes down to Earth, where it fills our lakes and rivers, recharges the underground aquifers, and provides drinks to plants and animals.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Attribution: Water Resources
Date published: July 5, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Science Photo Galleries

Learn about water using pictures

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: Is measuring water in a well like measuring a stream?

Find out more about how the USGS measures groundwater levels.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: Does stage tell you how much water is flowing?

Learn how river "stage" relates to streamflow and discharge, and how the USGS calculates them.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: We had a "100-year flood" two years in a row! How can that be?

Learn what hydrologists mean when they say "100-year flood".

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: Floods

Water Questions & Answers - Floods

This page offers some questions and answers about the hydrology of floods. This information is from the U.S. Geological Survey's MD-DE-DC Water Science Center website of frequently-asked questions about water.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: Why are wetlands and aquatic habitats important?

Learn more about wetlands, which are transitional areas between permanently flooded areas and well-drained uplands, and one of the most productive habitats on earth.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: What does the term "river stage" mean?

Find out what hydrologists mean when they report a river's "stage" and why it matters.

Contacts: Ask USGS
Date published: June 20, 2019
Status: Completed

Water Q&A: What water data does the USGS gather?

The USGS collects data about the country's water resources including the quantity and quality of water in our streams, rivers, groundwater, and more.

Contacts: Ask USGS
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.

Contacts: Ask USGS