How much water is there on, in, and above the Earth?
By - - USGS WATER SCIENCE FOR SCHOOLS
Added: Tue, 15 May 2012 09:10:45 UTC
We have linked to the USGS Water Science for Schools website for this story, even though it is written for a young readership, because it contains links to a lot of interesting background information. However, the story has also been featured in Discover Magazine.
Picture of Earth showing if all Earth's water (liquid, ice, freshwater, saline) was put into a sphere it would be about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) in diameter. Diameter would be about the distance from Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas, USA. Credit: Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (©); Howard Perlman, USGS.
As you know, the Earth is a watery place. But just how much water exists on, in, and above our planet? The picture to the left shows the size of a sphere that would contain all of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. You're probably thinking I missed a decimal point when running my calculator since surely all the water on, in, and above the Earth would fill a ball a lot larger than that "tiny" blue sphere sitting on the United States, reaching from about Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas. But, no, this diagram is indeed correct.
About 70 percent of the Earth's surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. But water also exists in the air as water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and even in you and your dog. Still, all that water would fit into that "tiny" ball. The ball is actually much larger than it looks like on your computer monitor or printed page because we're talking about volume, a 3-dimensional shape, but trying to show it on a flat, 2-dimensional screen or piece of paper. That tiny water bubble has a diameter of about 860 miles, meaning the height (towards your vision) would be 860 miles high, too! That is a lot of water.
But, as far as people are concerned, almost all of Earth's water is not usable in everyday life. Water on, in, and above the Earth is never sitting still, and thanks to the water cycle our planet's water supply is constantly moving from one place to another and from one form to another. Things would get pretty stale without the water cycle!
Damian Carrington - The Observer 3 Comments
"In the long run, I would still be more concerned about the impact of climate change, but this work shows that even if we stabilise the climate, we might still get sea level rise due to how we use water."
- - BBC News - Science & Environment 6 Comments
An "annular eclipse" will be visible from a 240 to 300km-wide swathe of Earth stretching from Asia across the Pacific to the western US on Monday.
Richard Black - BBC News - Science &... 6 Comments
Scientists have identified thousands of sites in the Arctic where methane that has been stored for many millennia is bubbling into the atmosphere.
Sid Perkins - Science - AAAS.org 8 Comments
Did a comet wipe out woolly mammoths and an ancient Indian culture almost 13,000 years ago? Geologists have fiercely debated the topic since 2007. Now a new study says an extraterrestrial impact wasn't to blame, though the scientists who originally proposed the impact idea still aren't convinced.
Megan Scudellari - TheScientist 14 Comments
Melting Ice Releases Ancient Microbes
Living cells escaping from Antarctic glaciers could speed global warming and affect marine life.
MORE BY -
- - BBC News Comments
A new poll suggests that atheism is on the rise in the US, while those who consider themselves religious has dropped. What's the cause? Two writers debate.
- - Top Documentary Films Comments
Documentary about ongoing events in Uganda, where many question whether the growing influence of American religious groups has led to a movement to make homosexuality a crime punishable by death.
- - URMC Comments
Newer Imaging Technique Brings ‘Glymphatic System’ to Light
- - human rights first Comments
Blasphemy Laws Exposed: The Consequences of Criminalizing “Defamation of Religions”
- - YouTube - townsquare Comments
Cara Santa Maria (Senior Science Correspondent, Huffingtonpost.com) leads this week's panel on 'The Point' to discuss these issues and more with Michael Shermer (Publisher - Skeptic Magazine), Sean Carroll (Theoretical Physicist - Caltech), and Edward Falzon (author of 'Being Gay Is Disgusting').
- - Ancestors Trail Walk Comments
WALK DARWIN’S TREE OF LIFE ~ 26 AUGUST 2012 - event begins on Saturday 25 August