What Are the Main Stages of the Water Cycle?

The main stages of the water cycle are evaporation, condensation, precipitation and collection. The stages of the water cycle work together in a continuous process of recycling Earth's water supply.

Evaporation occurs when the sun's heat causes water from the earth, sea, oceans and lakes to dissolve into a rising gas called water vapor, which combines to form clouds. Condensation is when water vapor cools down and becomes liquid again. Precipitation occurs when the condensed water drops from the clouds as either rain, snow or a combination of the two. Collection describes the process of the water being absorbed by oceans, lakes, other bodies of water or the ground.