Welcome to the Science Topics page of the USGS Water Science School, where you can explore the many aspects of water. All of our science information is available by browsing the Themes below.
What is the Earth's "water cycle?"
The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes where water is stored on Earth and how it moves. Water is stored in the atmosphere, on the land surface, and below the ground. It can be a liquid, a solid, or a gas. Liquid water can be fresh or saline (salty). Water moves between the places it is stored. It moves at large scales (through watersheds, the atmosphere, and below the Earth...
How much of the Earth's water is stored in glaciers?
About 2.1% of all of Earth's water is frozen in glaciers. 97.2% is in the oceans and inland seas 2.1% is in glaciers 0.6% is in groundwater and soil moisture less than 1% is in the atmosphere less than 1% is in lakes and rivers less than 1% is in all living plants and animals. About three-quarters of Earth's freshwater is stored in glaciers. Therefore, glacier ice is the second largest reservoir...
How important is groundwater?
Groundwater, which is in aquifers below the surface of the Earth, is one of the Nation's most important natural resources. Groundwater is the source of about 37 percent of the water that county and city water departments supply to households and businesses (public supply). It provides drinking water for more than 90 percent of the rural population who do not get their water delivered to them from...
Our Water, Our Lives: California
This Teacher Guide includes background information, lesson plans, and examples of student answers for four lessons about water resources in California. The Student Worksheet includes student activities and questions. It can be downloaded and printed or transferred to a digital classroom document.
Our Water, Our Lives: The Chesapeake Bay Watershed
This Teacher Guide includes background information, lesson plans, and examples of student answers for three lessons about the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The Student Worksheet includes student activities and questions. This can be downloaded and printed or transferred to a digital classroom document.
Teacher's Resources for Water Education
The USGS Water Science School offers many resources to help teach students all about water.