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The Water Cycle

US Geological Service (USGS) hosted by Windows to the Universe, Windows to the Universe

This visualization, from the US Geological Survey, provides a simple schematic of the various pathways that water can take as it cycles through ocean, lakes, atmosphere, surface and ground.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Effects of climate change on water cycle and freshwater availability
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7b

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • This visualization is available also here: http://ga.usgs.gov/edu/watercycle.html (at this site you can get a text-free version of the diagram that might be useful as an assessment)
  • Educator should look at the links on the visualization page to see connections to climate change.

About the Science

  • The visualization as a stand-alone does not connect to climate change. Educator must use other information at EPA climate change website to provide opportunities to make that connection. For example, the water resource impacts link at the top right brings the reader to a section that discusses the impact of climate change on regional water resources.
  • Comment from expert scientist: The material does a very good job of explaining how the water cycle is already changing and the implications of such change. The water cycle graphic from USGCRP (2009) is very appropriate.

About the Pedagogy

  • This visualization provides a comprehensive overview of the water cycle without adding a lot of potentially confusing details.
  • It will work well as a focal diagram for a unit on the water cycle.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The diagram can be viewed online and saved from a web browser. Images in other formats and sizes are not available.

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