The Inland water cycle can help to recover ecosystems
The basic need for any ecosystem is water, no known form of life could exist without it. 71 percent of our planet is covered by water 3 percent of those is fresh drinking water. The latest is mainly distributed between rivers, lakes, glaciers, and aquifers. The small water cycle affects the quality and quantity of water in concentration mediums. The health of the water cycle is crucial to supplying the basic need of every ecosystem. Moreover, to initiate the recovery of an ecological environment we can benefit from focusing on water. A healthy water cycle is a solid foundation for a sustainable environment.
small water cycle contributes to precipitation
We all learned in school about the water cycle, in fact, there is more than one type of water cycle each with its own contribution to the ecosystem. Water is cycling in those systems nonstop through all phases and seasons. The big water cycle also referred to as the long cycle, starts from moisture evaporating from the oceans.
The small cycle which is also called the short cycle – re-circulates the moisture inland.
These cycles move water from concentrations into the atmosphere for the resource to be later on redistributed along the planet. The moisture in the balance is collected from plants, soils lakes, and rivers when the solar energy from the sun heats the water and induces vaporation. This humidity reaches higher altitudes in the sky on which the temperature is low which makes vapors consolidate into the form of clouds.
Those clouds will move along the surface of the earth with the air currents and distribute the water resources across it as rain. Evaporation and precipitation are two processes induced by the natural environment to balance humidity levels and practically drive the water cycles.
When the entire cycle of evaporation and consolidation occurs inland we are introduced to phenomena like rainforests and swamplands. The benefit of this type of rain is that it helps to re-distribute the water on the small scope of the local ecosystem and create favorable conditions for its further restoration and development of it.
The effect small water cycles can have on the climate
Since the 80’s when concerns about climate change started to rise, we adopted an approach that is focused on greenhouse emissions. Ever since reducing and regulating greenhouse emissions are the main acts countries and goals companies and countries commit to. Although we should continue to reduce those emissions, a new voice in the scientific community promotes the idea of widening the focus toward the restoration of ecosystems. There are experimental case studies showing us that restoring natural ecosystems can moderate the effects of rising greenhouse gases on global temperature increases. A well-functioning ecosystem reduces and fixes the effect our actions have on the environment.
Greenhouse emissions increase the energetic load earth needs to barry. When the lands are bare the solar energy is dissipated as heat. On the other hand, when lands are filled with water and vegetation this energy is dissipated by warming the water and increasing the humidity of the air. This movement of water also initiates the small water cycle. The aim of the approach is to restore hydrologic cycles and reforestation of lands to mimic the conditions of our lands prior to the industrial revolution. When each part of the environmental system works properly there is a positive compounding effect on the speed of recreation. Contrary every lost local system increases the load the others will have to carry and push them toward failure.
How do precipitation works?
The rotation of our planet drives the circulation of moisture along the surface which we call the large water cycle. As we mentioned earlier 97% of the water on earth forms seas and oceans. Solar energy hits the surface of the oceans and causes evaporation. This form of evaporation accounts for 86 percent of moisture in the atmosphere. The left 14 percent of humidity comes from inland evaporation from lakes, rivers the lands, or as we call it the small water cycle. And here you have the catch, about a quarter (25 percent) of precipitation will end on land.
The potential to restore the hydrologic balance is huge, almost doubling the amount of water in the system yearly. When water availability increases it allows us a better ground floor to approach the local environmental problem. On the contrary, when we have polluted rivers and lakes we risk the transfer of pollutants to harm additional natural habitats.
The water on the small cycle transition in the vertical direction with minimum latitudinal transition, which affects the local weather. By local weather, we mean the hydrologic cycle that is happening in each watershed. all together those transitions are called the water cycle but especially in the recreational scope we should value the contribution each and every one of them has. This movement of water recycles water within the watershed and maintains the local ecological system since moist environments tend to attract more moisture.
Precipitation in danger
This compounding effect of the cycle holds a great opportunity for change. Remember that dry environments, like local cycles that we’re interrupted by industrialization, repel the water and worsen the problem. We interfere with this law of nature, by trying to control water resources on a local scale. For example by draining away excess or wastewater. When such interference is induced in the system each step of the cycle is affected and the water balance slightly decreases and the effect compounds to water scarcity.
Just as bad cycles have the power to ruin, a healthy cycle can restore. This is the essence of the new approach, we can optimize the hydrological balance in environments to speed up restoration. By restoration, we relate to all environments that contain water. Since the waters are cycling each environment with a healthy contribution supports the unhealthy cycles.
Water contained by soils
The water-holding capacity of soils
The capacity is naturally proportional to the organic materials it contains. If we increase by as little as one percent of the organic carbon compounds in the soil the water capacity will increase by 19 liters per square meter. The problem with modern agriculture is that it degrades the soil with the overuse of pesticides herbicides and frequent interference with the ground (the use of processing machines). This degraded land can contain a lot less water, which results in warming of the surface instead of evaporation of water. You may know this effect as global warming, but as you can see it is more like a set of local problems that should be better managed.
Land erosion damages the small water cycle
The consequent problem of such use of land is that the now dry, bare land is exposed to erosion. Erosion is a word to describe the process topsoil goes through when carried away between sites by air flows or runoff. What’s concerning about it is that topsoil is the part where most organic activity happens. The micro-organisms in the ground like fungi and bacteria decompose organic substances to create nutrients for plants and store a lot of carbon in the ground at the same time. When the topsoil is being washed away or dried its capacity to store carbon is decreasing like another domino in the cycle is falling and reinforcing the conditions that initiated the process.
Greenhouse gases emitted due to land erosion
Another aspect of the land erosion problem is that it emits tremendous amounts of CO2 in the process. The CO2 as a greenhouse gas will in turn accelerate global warming which will cause wider desertification and more eroded lands. Further, while the soil particles flow in the air it forms the conditions we call sand storms which are major health hazards in countries that suffer from desertification.
Erosion is a negative process that reinforces itself
If that wasn’t enough, the farmers that used to grow on the now eroded soil food will have to use more water and more pesticides to maintain the same harvest. This is problematic in two means, the first is that it’s bad for the soil itself. The other is that the incapable of water-holding soil will be exposed to flash floods. During those runoff events, the soil is washed away along with all of the chemicals it contains. Some of those substances will find their way to other natural areas and interfere with the existing balance there.
The latter is a major threat to waters in aquifers (groundwater), rivers, and lakes. When we add matter to a natural environment we need to be mindful of how those substances can drift away from their source due to meteorological conditions and cause unexpected consequences in where they end up.
The effect of the urban area
Another concept worth mentioning is the effect of urbanization on the hydrologic condition of the land. When we pave roads or clear natural habitats for the expansion of our cities we also decrease the land’s capability to absorb water. Concrete and asphalt are two impermeable mediums that we cover the surface area of the land with. When more surfaces can not absorb water the overall water contained in the area start’s to gradually decrease. Combined with the effect of depleted soils we caused a major challenge for the small water cycle to overcome.
If that wasn’t enough, impermeable mediums also increase the runoff of water. Since all of the water that couldn’t seep into the ground will flow toward drainage. Physically the additional water is looking to find a place to equilibrate. The effect of the runoff is further erosion of the lands as well as the transition of contaminated materials to more natural habitats.
The influence of our interference with nature
We start sensing the effect of our interference with nature. An expression of that is changing rain patterns. As we start measuring decreasing rainfall in lower altitudes and increasing in intensity and volume in higher. Additionally, it causes intense weather events like more frequent storms and floods. Those changes to the small local water cycles compound into a change in the global cycle. It has the power to restrain or worsen desertification and other social injustices like climate immigration, both for wildlife and human communities.
Human activities are the ones that caused deserts and changes in weather patterns. This statement is very optimistic to us . It means we have the power to change the environment once again toward a more sustainable and functioning system. One that can support the growing humanity around it, and maintain the need for food and fresh water.
How can we use this understanding of local climate?
Climate change is a fact we see its expression reflected in the changing natural systems. The scale of this problem is gi can predict what will happen but it’s enough to consider recent events.
The summer becomes hotter, forests are burning and natural habitats are destroyed. This serves as a sad promo to what we might be facing if not caring for the environment. For that reason, we need to make an impact now, the only question is how can we do it?
A good point to start with will be repairing water cycles. Water drives life. If you solve the water you will start creating a vivid ecosystem. the concept is in practice for many years. For that, there are a lot of examples of how effective it can be. You can see an inspiring example in the movie – Regreening the desert with John D. Liu.
We hope to see the science community along with the world’s leaders support the small water cycle.
It’s an in-hand solution to tackle the climate crisis. It seems like we have all the technology and experience we need, considering the simplicity of the regenerative agriculture methods that we can apply. The focus on restoring small water cycles and local ecosystems can increase the sense of ownership of the problem. A lack of ownership is the reason we needed to go this far to notice something bad is happening. Simply saying no country took full responsibility for the footprint of their lifestyle. Better late than ever we are encouraging this movement and recommend you to be aware of it as well.