Water cycling is under pressure by change in climate

ByUmair Ali

Trainee lawyer


October 15, 2022

Umair Ali is worried about a crucial alteration

The intense drift in the movement of water cycles is now described as one of the after-effects of climate change that is critical in disturbing the finely balanced ecological factor of mother earth. In this context, it is mentioned that intense monsoons and fierce drought have one thing in common and that is water cycling Climate change and other human activities are disrupting this crucial system that has made human life possible and sustainable on the planet. Viewed in this backdrop the water cycle, also described as the hydrological cycle, is the process by which water moves through the Earth’s land, seas and atmosphere.

While going through this process, water encounters three natural phases; gas, liquid, and solid, which continuously refreshes the supply of water that every other living thing, needs to survive. Of the world’s finite supply of water, around 97% is salty. The remaining 3% is fresh water that is used for things like drinking, bathing, or irrigating crops. Most of that, however, is out of reach, locked away in the ice or deep underground in aquifers. Only around 1% of the world’s total water supply is readily available, to sustain all life on Earth.

It is observed that when the water is held in lakes, rivers, oceans, and seas it is constantly heated by the sun. As the surface warms, liquid water evaporates and becomes vapor, escaping into the atmosphere. Wind can speed up that evaporation process with plants also releasing water vapor through the pores of their leaves and stems, Once in the air, vapor begins to cool and condense around tiny, suspended particles of dust, smoke, or other pollutants and forms clouds.

Movement Of Clouds

These clouds can move around the planet in horizontal bands known as atmospheric rivers that constitutes a key feature of the global cycle that fuels weather systems. When enough water vapor collects, the droplets suspended in the clouds begin to merge and grow larger. Eventually, they get too heavy and fall to the ground in the form of rain, and eventually, this precipitation recharges the rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water down below beginning the water again.

Moreover, water also percolates through the soil under the influence of gravity and pressure where it collects in underground reservoirs or aquifers. It continues moving to lower elevations, sometimes for thousands of years, in a process called groundwater flow before eventually seeping into a body of water to rejoin the cycle. It is shown that in some parts of the world, the water cycle is speeding up in response to human-caused climate change and warmer temperatures are heating the lower atmosphere and increasing evaporation, adding more water vapor to the air.

More water in the air means a greater chance of precipitation often in the form of intense, unpredictable storms. Conversely, increased evaporation can also intensify dry conditions in areas prone to drought with water escaping into the atmosphere rather than staying on the ground where it is needed.

It is pointed out that acceleration of the water cycle has implications both at the ocean and on the continent where storms could become increasingly intense as this higher amount of water circulating in the atmosphere could also explain the increase in rainfall that is being detected in some polar areas, where the fact that it is raining instead of snowing is speeding up the melting.

Restoring Wetlands And Rethinking Agriculture

It has become clear that drastic cuts to fossil fuel emissions will not be easy and any noticeable improvements will be quick but some more immediate fixes to stabilize the water cycle are possible. Restoring wetlands and rethinking agriculture, to incorporate farming techniques that conserve water and preserve and build up the soil can help to maintain and restore the capacity of the ground to absorb, purify and store water.

It is also mentioned that bringing rivers and waterways back to a more natural state can also help to reverse some of the damage. Cities and regions in the watershed of the Hindu Kush and Himalayan mountain ranges may need to start turning to solutions like these sooner than later as the recent devastating cloud burst has indicated. Billions of people there rely on the seasonal accumulation of packed snow and ice stored in mountains and glaciers for their fresh water.

Scientists predict that the change in the water cycle could bring in an unheard-of disaster as, without a consistent flow of meltwater, water scarcity will increase for billions of people. And while groundwater can make up some of the shortfalls, that is also projected to decrease in the coming decades due to climate change. Agriculture has already become more difficult in places like the north-western areas of Pakistan and India where a drop in snowfall has been recorded along with radical glacier retreat over the last few decades. The Weekender


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