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Science

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.

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Surface Water

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Water Quality

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Water Properties

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Water Basics

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Water Use

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Water Cycle Components

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Groundwater

FAQs

What is the Earth's "water cycle?"

The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water as it makes a circuit from the oceans to the atmosphere to the Earth and on again. Most of Earth's water is in the oceans. The sun, which drives the water cycle, heats water in the oceans. Some of it evaporates as vapor into the air. Rising vapor cools and condenses into clouds. Cloud particles grow and...

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What is the Earth's "water cycle?"

The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the continuous movement of water as it makes a circuit from the oceans to the atmosphere to the Earth and on again. Most of Earth's water is in the oceans. The sun, which drives the water cycle, heats water in the oceans. Some of it evaporates as vapor into the air. Rising vapor cools and condenses into clouds. Cloud particles grow and...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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Education

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.

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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.

Learn More

Teacher's Resources for Water Education

The USGS Water Science School offers many resources to teachers help teach students all about water. 

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Teacher's Resources for Water Education

The USGS Water Science School offers many resources to teachers help teach students all about water. 

Learn More

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.

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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.

Learn More