What Is the Water Cycle?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Apr 17, 2020 7:42:30 PM ET
Floyd Manzano/CC-BY 2.0

The water cycle, also known as the hydrologic cycle, describes the process of how water moves through Earth's environment. In general, water evaporates from oceans, then it condenses in the atmosphere as water vapor cools. When enough water gathers in clouds, it precipitates back to the Earth's surface as rain, hail, snow or sleet.