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The sun drives the entire water cycle and is responsible for its two major components: condensation and evaporation.When the sun heats the surface of water, it evaporates and ends up in the atmosphere as water vapor.
At the third stage in the cycle, rainwater may take various paths.
Some of it may fall into lakes or return to the oceans via ‘surface runoff’.
Because the climate of the Great Plains is arid, water in the aquifer is being used faster than it can be recharged.
That's why some scientists refer to using fossil water aquifers as water mining. Images from the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft show what looked like gullies carved out by rivers of water on the surface of the planet.
Water and the water cycle have essential roles in almost every environmental system (textbook).
The hydrologic cycle, also known as the water cycle, summarizes how water in all different forms circulates through our environment (textbook).
You can learn more about the water cycle in How the Earth Works.
Water that falls to the ground and stays in the soil ends up evaporating and retiring to the atmosphere.
Lying below about 175,000 square miles (450,000 square kilometers) of eight states in the Great Plains, the Ogallala Aquifer stores about 2,900 million acre-feet (3,600 million kilometers cubed) of water [source: High Plains/Ogallala Aquifer].
The Ogallala Aquifer was formed between 2 and 6 million years ago, when the Rocky Mountain chain was forming.