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Where is Earth’s Water?
“Water, Water, Everywhere….”
You’ve heard the phrase, and for water, it really is true. Earth’s water is (almost) everywhere: above the Earth in the air and clouds, on the surface of the Earth in rivers, oceans, ice, plants, in living organisms, and inside the Earth in the top few miles of the ground.
For an estimated explanation of where Earth’s water exists, look at this bar chart. If you check back in a million years, no doubt these numbers will be different!
- Left bar: All water, freshwater and saline, on, in, and above the Earth.
- Center bar: All freshwater
- Right bar: Only the portion of freshwater residing in surface water (rivers and lakes, etc), snow and ice, and relatively-shallow ground water.
Here is a bar chart showing where all water on, in, and above the Earth exists. The left-side bar chart shows how almost all of Earth’s water is saline and is found in the oceans.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION Because water covers three-quarters of the earth’s surface, it might appear that there is plenty to go around and that we will never run out of this valuable resource. In reality, however, we have a limited amount of usable fresh water. Over 97 percent of the earth’s water is found in the oceans as salt water.
Two percent of the earth’s water is stored as fresh water in glaciers, ice caps, and snowy mountain ranges.
That leaves only one percent of the earth’s water available to us for our daily water supply needs.
Our fresh water supplies are stored either in the soil (aquifers) or bedrock fractures beneath the ground (ground water) or in lakes, rivers, and streams on the earth’s surface (surface water).
Approximately 39 percent of our fresh water is used for the production of electricity; 11 percent is used in urban and rural homes, ➤offices, and hotels; and the remaining 8 percent is used in manufacturing and mining activities.
TEACHING STRATEGY FOR GRADES K-3 Part A
– Exploring the Globe 1. Look at the globe with the students. See if they can find where they live on the globe. Have them point out lakes, rivers, and oceans. 2. Ask the students if they know which kinds of waterbodies are salt water and which are freshwater.
Have they ever tasted salt water? Was it good? 3. Ask the students if they think there is more water or land on the globe.
Is there water beneath the surface of the ground that we cannot see on the globe? Part B – Demonstrating With Ziti 1. Spread the ziti out on a table.
100 ziti pieces
Explain that there are 100 ziti pieces that represents all (100%) of the water in the world. 2. Using the concept of percentages, ask the students if they know what the red and green zitis represent. See if they can estimate percentages. Explain that the two green zitis represent water that is stored as ice in glaciers and at the poles (2%). The lonely red ziti represents the fresh water that is available for plants, animals, and people (1% of all the water on the earth). Ask the students what the remaining blue zitis represent.
They represent the water that’s in the ocean, 97% of all the water on earth. 3. Ask the students what we should do to take good care of the water we use in our homes and businesses.
Use only what we need. Optional Strategy Use 100 dixie cups filled with water. Use food coloring (as described above) to indicate ice glaciers and fresh water.
Supplementary Activities ■ Draw a water pie. Have students draw a circle that represents all the water in the world. Have them make pie slices in the circle that represent 97% ocean, 2% glaciers and ice, and 1% fresh water. Color and label the water pie.