A hydrosphere is the total amount of water on a planet. The hydrosphere includes water that is on the surface of the planet, underground, and in the air. A planet's hydrosphere can be liquid, vapor, or ice.
On Earth, liquid water exists on the surface in the form of oceans, lakes and rivers. It also exists below ground—as groundwater, in wells and aquifers. Water vapor is most visible as clouds and fog.
The frozen part of Earth's hydrosphere is made of ice: glaciers, ice caps and icebergs. The frozen part of the hydrosphere has its own name, the cryosphere.
Water moves through the hydrosphere in a cycle. Water collects in clouds, then falls to Earth in the form of rain or snow. This water collects in rivers, lakes and oceans. Then it evaporates into the atmosphere to start the cycle all over again. This is called the water cycle.
Hydrosphere in Space
Some scientists believe a hydrosphere exists on Europa, a moon of Jupiter, that consists of a frozen outer layer and a giant, liquid ocean underneath it.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry aquifer Noun
an underground layer of rock or earth which holds groundwater.
Encyclopedic Entry: aquifer atmosphere Noun
layers of gases surrounding a planet or other celestial body.
Encyclopedic Entry: atmosphere cloud Noun
visible mass of tiny water droplets or ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere.
Encyclopedic Entry: cloud cryosphere Noun
icy part of the Earth's waterincluding icebergs, glaciers, and ice caps.
our planet, the third from the Sun. The Earth is the only place in the known universe that supports life.
Encyclopedic Entry: Earth Europa Noun
moon of Jupiter.
to change from a liquid to a gas or vapor.
clouds at ground level.
Encyclopedic Entry: fog glacier Noun
mass of ice that moves slowly over land.
Encyclopedic Entry: glacier groundwater Noun
water found in an aquifer.
Encyclopedic Entry: groundwater hydrosphere Noun
all the Earth's water in the ground, on the surface, and in the air.
Encyclopedic Entry: hydrosphere ice Noun
water in its solid form.
Encyclopedic Entry: ice iceberg Noun
large chunks of ice that break off from glaciers and float in the ocean.
Encyclopedic Entry: iceberg ice cap Noun
area of fewer than 50,000 square kilometers (19,000 square miles) covered by ice.
Encyclopedic Entry: ice cap Jupiter Noun
largest planet in the solar system, the fifth planet from the Sun.
body of water surrounded by land.
Encyclopedic Entry: lake liquid Noun
state of matter with no fixed shape and molecules that remain loosely bound with each other.
large body of salt water that covers most of the Earth.
Encyclopedic Entry: ocean planet Noun
large, spherical celestial body that regularly rotates around a star.
Encyclopedic Entry: planet rain Noun
Encyclopedic Entry: rain river Noun
large stream of flowing fresh water.
Encyclopedic Entry: river snow Noun
precipitation made of ice crystals.
visible liquid suspended in the air, such as fog.
water cycle Noun
movement of water between atmosphere, land, and ocean.
Encyclopedic Entry: water cycle well Noun
a hole drilled in the Earth to obtain a liquid or gaseous substance.