USGS - science for a changing world

The USGS Water Science School

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The Water Cycle for Kids
Where is Earth's Water?

Picture of Thundershowers over Yellowstone Lake, Montana, USA


One estimate of global water distribution
Water sourceWater volume, in cubic milesWater volume, in cubic kilometersPercent of
freshwater
Percent of
total water
Oceans, Seas, & Bays321,000,0001,338,000,000--96.5
Ice caps, Glaciers, & Permanent Snow5,773,00024,064,00068.61.74
Ground water5,614,00023,400,000--1.7
    Fresh2,526,00010,530,00030.1  0.76
    Saline3,088,00012,870,000--  0.93
Soil Moisture3,95916,5000.050.001
Ground Ice & Permafrost71,970300,0000.860.022
Lakes42,320176,400--0.013
    Fresh21,83091,0000.260.007
    Saline20,49085,400--0.007
Atmosphere3,09512,9000.040.001
Swamp Water2,75211,4700.030.0008
Rivers5092,1200.0060.0002
Biological Water2691,1200.0030.0001
Source: Igor Shiklomanov's chapter "World fresh water resources" in Peter H. Gleick (editor), 1993, Water in Crisis: A Guide to the World's Fresh Water Resources (Oxford University Press, New York).

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