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The hydrologic cycle in detail

Describe the paths of water through the hydrologic cycle. Explain the processes and the energy gains and losses involved in the changes of water between its 3 states. Operationally, we often most concerned with water does when it reaches the solid earth, both on the surface and in the sub-surface. Explain the relationship between the saturated zone, the water table, a ground water well and the cone of depression, all within the sub-surface.

Any answer supplied will be used as a guide only and will be put into my own word The OTA will be given credit in my final essay for their assistance.

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OK .... fundamental concept
water has the highest heat capacity of any known material. (1 calorie/gram/ degree C ) This means it has the ability to store and transfer lots of energy as it moves about. The absorption or release of this energy is cued to its changes of phase (solid - liquid - gas) as seen here: (from answers.com)


This means that solid ice absorbs a certain quanta of energy, and then has to absorb a "bunch" more (~6 kilojoules/gram) to change from solid to liquid (while remaining at constant temperature). This is the energy required to break some of the numerous hydrogen bonds ice has in its solid form. We call this melting. Similarly, we add energy to liquid water (which still has some H-bonds) until it approaches 100C. Then we have to add a"whole bunch" more (~40.7kJ/g) to break those remaining H-bonds and turn the water into individual, unconnected water molecules (water vapor) imbibed with sufficient kinetic energy to float off of the surface of the water.(evaporation)

Similarly, when water vapor condenses in the atmosphere to form clouds, it releases that 40.7kJ/g back into the ambient environment. A similar thing happens with the formation of ice (freezing)- albeit a smaller (6 kJ/g) energy release.

So on to the hydrologic cycle itself. We will start with the sun shining on the ocean, more of which occurs in the tropical seas due to time of illumination of the year as well as sun angles. This is called differential heating and is the basis of weather, winds, surface ocean currents - and thus is integral to the understanding of Earth's hydrologic cycle as a heat engine. The movement of water, and its ...

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Answer deals with the steps of the hydrologic cycle in detail. Includes an HTML attachment with image and reference links