Jump to this Static Visualization »
The Water Cycle

US Geological Service (USGS)

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.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept
High School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

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

  • 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.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

MS-ESS2.C1:Water continually cycles among land, ocean, and atmosphere via transpiration, evaporation, condensation and crystallization, and precipitation, as well as downhill flows on land.

MS-ESS2.C2:The complex patterns of the changes and the movement of water in the atmosphere, determined by winds, landforms, and ocean temperatures and currents, are major determinants of local weather patterns.

MS-ESS2.C3:Global movements of water and its changes in form are propelled by sunlight and gravity.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Systems and System Models

MS-C4:Systems and System Models

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

HS-ESS2.C1:The abundance of liquid water on Earth’s surface and its unique combination of physical and chemical properties are central to the planet’s dynamics. These properties include water’s exceptional capacity to absorb, store, and release large amounts of energy, transmit sunlight, expand upon freezing, dissolve and transport materials, and lower the viscosities and melting points of rocks.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Systems and System Models

HS-C4:Systems and System Models

Jump to this Static Visualization »