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10.5: Review and Additional Resources

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    Review and assess your learning. Start with the "Important Terms and Concepts" to ensure you know the terminology related to the topic of the chapter and concepts discussed. Move on to the "Review Questions" to answer critical thinking questions about concepts and processes discussed in the chapter. Finally, test your overall understanding by taking the "Self-assessment quiz".

    Important Terms and Concepts
    • hydrosphere
      often called the "water sphere" as it includes all the earth's water found in the oceans, glaciers, streams, lakes, the soil, groundwater, and in the air.
    • hydrologic cycle
      aka water cycle. the cycling of water through the earth system. It is a cycle of energy as well.
    • soil water
      the water that is immediately available to plants.
    • groundwater
      occupies the zone of saturation. Found in aquifers and replenished by percolation of water from the zone of aeration downward to the zone of saturation, or in the recharge zone of a confined aquifer.
    • evaporation
      the phase change of liquid water into a vapor (gas)
    • latent energy
      "locked up" in the water molecule when water undergoes the phase change from a liquid to a gas.
    • precipitation
      droplets of water that fall from the clouds to the earth
    • interception
      Precipitation that collects on the leaves or stems of plants
    • infiltration
      refers to water that penetrates into the surface of soil.
    • zone of aeration
      aka "unsaturated zone", includes soil water zone. See image under "zone of saturation"
    • zone of saturation
      includes ground water
      zones of subsurface water
    • groundwater zone
      included in zone of saturation. See image under "zone of saturation"
    • water table
      divides the zone of aeration from the zone of saturation. The height of the water table will fluctuate with precipitation, increasing in elevation during wet periods and decreasing during dry.
    • hygroscopic water
      a microscopic film of water surrounding soil particles
    • capillary water
      held by cohesive forces between the films of hygroscopic water
    • wilting point
      At this point the plant cannot pull water from the plant-rooting zone and it wilts
    • gravity water
      water moved through the soil by the force of gravity
    • field capacity
      The amount of water held in the soil after excess water has drained
    • available water
      The difference between the wilting point and the field capacity
    • percolation
      the movement of water downward through the soil
    • seepage
      water that moves downward through the soil toward a stream channel of large body of water
    • aquifer
      bodies of earth material that have the ability to hold and transmit water
    • aquiclude
      dense impermeable layers of earth material
    • hydraulic gradient
      the difference in elevation between two points on the water table divided by the horizontal distance between them
    • groundwater flow rate
      permeability X hydraulic gradient
    • runoff
      precipitation that moves across the surface
    • unconfined flow
      moves across the surface in broad sheets of water often creating sheet erosion
    • confined flow
      water confined to channels
    • depression storage
      Water that became trapped in depressions
    • stream discharge
      the volume of water passing through a particular cross-section of a stream in a unit of time
    • stream hydrograph
      illustrates the relationship between discharge and runoff
    • water balance
      an accounting of the inputs and outputs of water
    • precipitation
      makes up the primarily supply of water to the surface.
    • actual evapotranspiration
      the amount of water delivered to the air from evaporation and transpiration
    • evaporation
      the phase change from a liquid to a gas releasing water from a wet surface into the air above
    • transpiration
      represents a phase change when water is released into the air by plants
    • evapotranspiration
      combined transfer of water into the air by evaporation and transpiration
    • potential evapotranspiration
      the amount of water that would be evaporated under an optimal set of conditions, among which is an unlimited supply of water
    • soil moisture storage
      the amount of water held in the soil at any particular time
    • change in soil moisture storage
      the amount of water that is being added to or removed from what is stored
    • deficit
      demand for water exceeds that which is actually available; when potential evapotranspiration exceeds actual evapotranspiration (PE>AE)
    • surplus
      when P exceeds PE and the soil is at its field capacity (saturated); we have more water than we actually need to use given the environmental conditions at a place
    • soil moisture recharge
      Precipitation satisfies the need for water with water left over and begins to replenish the soil moisture
    • soil moisture utilization
      precipitation is no longer is able to meet the demands of potential evapotranspiration. Plants must extract water that is stored in the soil from the previous months
    Review Questions \(\PageIndex{1}\)

    Briefly describe what the hydrologic cycle is.


    The hydrologic cycle or water cycle is the pathway through which water moves in the Earth system. It is a cycle of energy as well as moisture.

    Compare and contrast soil water and groundwater.


    Soil water is held in the soil moisture zone that lies in the zone of aeration. Groundwater is held in the zone of saturation. Soil water is directly available for plants to use, ground water is not.

    How do plants affect the hydrologic cycle?


    Plants affect the water cycle though by extracting water from the soil moisture zone and passing it to the atmosphere. Water moves as through fall through plant canopy.

    What impact does soil texture have on field capacity?


    The field capacity is the maximum amount of water held in the soil after it has bee drained by gravity. Field capacity is higher in fine textured soils because there is more pore space per unit volume than for coarse textured soils.

    What affects the permeability of subsurface warth materials?


    Permeability is the ability for water to move through earth material. The connectivity of pore spaces largely controls permeability. Large, well-connected pore space results in greater permeability. Thus, coarse soils are more permeable than fine textured soils.

    How does soil texture affect available water?


    Finer textured soils hold more water and thus have more available water than coarse textured soils.

    Compare and contrast an aquiclude with an aquifier.


    An aquifer is a body of earth material able to hold and transmit groundwater in economical amounts. An aquiclude is far less permeable and cannot transmit water through it.

    Describe the effect of urbanization on a stream hydrograph.


    Urbanization can decrease the lag time between maximum precipitation and runoff, and increase and steepen the recessional limb of a hydrograph.

    What is potential evapotranspiration?


    Evapotranspiration is the amount of water evaporated and transpired under an unlimited supply of water. Fundamentally it is determined by energy input to the environment. Evapotranspiration can be thought of as "water need”.

    Under what conditions does a soil water deficit occur?


    A soil water deficit occurs when potential evapotranspiration exceeds precipitation and the soil water storage is zero (dry soil).

    Under what conditions does a soil water surplus occur?


    A soil water surplus occurs when precipitation exceeds potential evapotranspiration and the soil is at field capacity.

    Self-Assessment Quiz \(\PageIndex{1}\)
    1. In soil moisture budgeting, potential evapotranspiration is largely dependent on
      1. soil texture
      2. energy input
      3. plant type
      4. all the above
    2. The largest store of fresh water in the hydrosphere is
      1. the ocean
      2. glaciers
      3. the Great Lakes
      4. ground water
    3. Over pumping of ground water could lead to
      1. lowered water tables
      2. land subsidence
      3. decreased aquifer permeability
      4. all the above
    4. Infiltration of water into the soil
      1. is higher for coarse textured soil
      2. is higher when the soil is dry
      3. is higher for vegetated surfaces
      4. is affected by all the above
    5. Which of the following soil texture classes would have the largest available water?
      1. sand
      2. silt
      3. clay
      4. loam
    6. The water held that is "bound" the tightest to soil particles is
      1. hydroscopic water
      2. capillary water
      3. gravity water
      4. pore water
    7. The process whereby water drips from leaf-to-leaf finally making it to the ground is called
      1. through flow
      2. stem flow
      3. through fall
      4. interception
    8. The zone of saturation is the
      1. soil water zone
      2. intermediate zone
      3. aeration zone
      4. ground water zone
    9. The point at which plants can no longer extract water from the soil is called the
      1. field capacity point
      2. dryness point
      3. wilting point
      4. none of the above
    10. If PE is greater than AE and P, and the soil is dry, then
      1. soil water recharge is likely to occur
      2. soil water surplus is likely to occur
      3. soil water utilization is likely to occur
      4. soil water deficit is likely to occur
    1. B
    2. B
    3. D
    4. D
    5. D
    6. A
    7. A
    8. D
    9. C
    10. D

    Additional Resources

    Use these resources to further explore the world of geography

    Focus on The Physical Environment: "The Rise and Fall of Africa’s Great Lake" NASA Earth Observatory

    Connections: "Could California’s drought make residents sick?" NewsHour (PBS) 09/03/2016 report

    Physical Geography Today: Ground Water Climate Response Network - USGS

    World of Change: Evaporation of the Aral Sea (NASA Earth Observatory)


    "The Desert Springs of Mexico's Cuatro Cienegas", (8:56)


    "Defining Drought" National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska - Lincoln

    This page titled 10.5: Review and Additional Resources is shared under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Michael E. Ritter (The Physical Environment) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.