Wednesday, June 12, 2019

It's Water-Wise Wednesdays with Frannie the Fish! {The Water Cycle: Part 4 - Surface Water}

This is the fourth part of Frannie’s exploration of the water cycle. Please check out her previous blog on the overview of the water cycle and her deep dives into groundwater and discharge.

Welcome back to Frannie’s deep dive into the water cycle! Today’s focus is surface water. Frannie knows that groundwater refers to water under the ground, so surface water must refer to the bodies of water above the ground, on the surface of the earth. Streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans are all examples of surface water.

Frannie’s experiment with the Awesome Aquifer Kit and her deep dive into the discharge process taught her that surface water is connected to groundwater. Streams and rivers can exchange water droplets that flow with the main current with water droplets that make up the subsurface flow, or flow beneath the streambed.

While Frannie wasn’t surprised by her research into streams and lakes, she was surprised to find surface water hiding in wetlands and glaciers! Wetlands, like marshes and swamps and bogs, are very important locations for groundwater recharge, which Frannie will talk about more later.  Wetlands near the sea or ocean can be flooded and drained by tidal activity and become salt marshes. All kinds of wetlands are incredibly important to prevent flooding and protect water quality.

Frannie has never seen a glacier, but in her research, she learned that she could think of it as a large river of ice that flows downhill under its own weight. When areas have a lot of snowfall in the winter start to warm up, the snow begins to melt and compress itself. If an area receives more snow than it can melt away, the melting snow turns into ice and grows with more cycles of snowfall and partial melting, eventually forming a glacier. Glaciers have an enormous effect on the topography, or layout of the land, in a region as well as its quantity and quality of available water.

Join Frannie next time as she follows the water cycle from rivers, wetlands, and glaciers to the sky. See you then!

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