Where is the Earth’s Water? (2024)

Updated on:
January 6, 2024

On this planet, there is no lack of water. Water covers the majority of our world, however only a small portion of that water is drinkable by people.

Oceans cover two-thirds of the earth’s surface. Almost all of the water on the planet is contained within these huge saltwater bodies.

Freshwater makes up less than 3% of the planet’s water, and not all of it is suitable for human use. In reality, more than two-thirds of the world’s freshwater is frozen in glaciers, such as those found in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. The majority of these resources are unavailable to humans, however, glacier meltwater is a valuable resource in some areas.

The rest of the world’s freshwater supply is almost entirely made up of groundwater. This underground water rises to the surface to soak marshes and feed streams. Groundwater is a valuable resource that may be used for agricultural, industrial, and environmental purposes, as well as for drinking water. Today, groundwater supplies between 25 and 40% of the world’s drinking water. Groundwater resources on the earth were formed during prehistoric climates and are considered non-renewable water sources.

Even though most people acquire their daily drinking water from rivers or lakes, surface freshwater makes only a tiny proportion of the Earth’s water. Despite their importance for water supply, rivers and streams only comprise around 1% of this freshwater, a fraction of the quantity found in lakes and reservoirs.

Only approximately 0.001% of Earth’s water is in the form of atmospheric vapor at any given moment, a surprisingly modest percentage considering its critical role in weather. This water, on the other hand, is recycled several times every year between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere, a process we see as rain or snow.

Read more about the earth’s water sources here.

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