The water cycle has no definitive starting point, but the majority of the earth's water exists in the ocean. Therefore, many diagrams or explanations of the water cycle begin there. The stages of the water cycle include evaporation, transportation, condensation, precipitation, groundwater and run-off.
Starting with evaporation, the sun heats the ocean's water, and then the water rises into the atmosphere. The cooler temperatures in the atmosphere condense the water particles into clouds.
Transportation is the movement of water in all its forms through the atmosphere; this is accomplished with the formation of clouds. As clouds move around the world, they fall out of the sky as precipitation in the form of rain, hail, snow or sleet. Some of this precipitation falls back into the ocean where the cycle starts over, but some falls onto the land. Once the water hits land, the ground may absorb it where plants use the water for nutrition. This groundwater can also replenish aquifers or create freshwater springs.
Most water runs off toward the rivers or oceans aided by gravity. Then, the cycle starts over. Water often changes its states while going through the water cycle. Water can also desublimate as dew or fog directly from the atmosphere.