Hydrosphere is the part of the earth where water exists in forms of surface water, underground water and in the air. Approximately, 71% of earth that is 361740000 square kilometers is surrounded by water. Oceans, lakes, rivers, underground water, streams, ice lands and water vapour in the atmosphere are collectively called the hydrosphere.
The existence of hydrosphere depends on an important phenomenon called the water cycle or the hydrological cycle. There are four steps in the Water cycle. Those are evaporation, condensation, precipitation and surface run-off. Water from lakes, oceans, streams, etc. evaporates by the sun’s heat. This transformation of state from liquid to gas is called evaporation. Water vapour carried away by hot air starts to cool when it goes higher from the earth’s surface. Later it transforms in the form of clouds.
This process is known as condensation. When the water accumulates in the clouds, it becomes heavy and starts to fall back in the form of snow or rain depending upon the temperature of the atmosphere. This process is known as precipitation. When it rains, a small quantity of water is absorbed by the soil and becomes groundwater. The remaining part flows through the hills, mountains and is collected in different parts of the hydrosphere. This process is termed as surface run-off. This cycle of water passing different states and stages is called the hydrosphere.
Importance of Hydrosphere
As we all know, the survival of living organisms without water is impossible. Life on the earth entirely depends upon water. Hence earth is known as a water planet. Hydrosphere plays a vital role in our daily life. A few importance of hydrosphere are as follows:
1. One of the Basic Needs of Human
Apart from drinking, water is essential for cooking, cleaning, washing and even for the functioning of so many industries. In addition to this, water is necessary for agriculture and the generation of electricity through hydropower. It is difficult to imagine a day without water.
2. Part of a Living Cell
The main component in the cells of all living organisms is water. It is found that 75% of the cell is composed of water. Most of the chemical reactions occurring in the cells are mainly due to the presence of water. Survival of a cell is impossible without water. In plants, the energy transportation is done with the help of these water molecules only.
3. Habitat for Many Organisms
Hydrosphere is the habitat for numerous aquatic plants and animals. The number of living organisms in water is high when compared to the number of organisms that are living on land. Plants and animals in the water make use of gases such as oxygen and carbon dioxide that are dissolved in water for their existence. They also use nutrients such as ammonium ions, nitrate, etc. for their life.
4. Regulates Temperature
One of the important features of the hydrosphere is that it helps to regulate the temperature of the environment. The specific heat capacity of water is the main property by which this regulation is happening. Water takes time to heat as well as to cool. So the places surrounded by water bodies like oceans and lakes tend to have a balanced climate. The temperature in the coastal areas may not have extreme temperature differences. Not only maintains atmosphere temperature, but also regulates temperature for all living organisms.
5. Atmosphere Existence
Hydrosphere plays an important role in the present form of atmosphere. Above 400 million years ago, the earth’s atmosphere was covered with helium and hydrogen. Earth’s atmosphere was very thin and was similar to the planet Mercury’s present atmosphere and the temperature was around 600°C. Later on, when the earth's surface cooled and as a result of so many chemical reactions, the water bodies and atmosphere formed in massive amounts.
How do Human Activities Affect the Hydrosphere?
Irresponsible human activities are the main cause of the depletion of water sources and pollution of the hydrosphere. Cutting down of trees badly affects the environment and causes global warming. These adverse changes affect the natural hydrological cycle. Discharge of waste from the industries, toxic chemicals, pesticides, radioactive substances and plastics into the water bodies have a bad impact on the freshwater system as well as the aquatic plants and animals. The burning of fossil fuels is the major source of emission of harmful greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These gases cause acid rains. When this water is collected in the hydrosphere, the water becomes acidified and this has become a big problem throughout the world. Most of the fishes cannot survive in the acidified water and gradually their population started to decrease.
The increase in population will increase the need for water. But our lakes, rivers, freshwater ponds and wells are disappearing. The scarcity of fresh water is going to become a serious problem in the upcoming years. Due to the rise in temperature, now it is a challenge to sustain the hydrosphere.
How to Save the Hydrosphere?
The existence of a hydrosphere is essential for the existence of life in the world. We can take small steps to conserve water through which we can sustain our water bodies. It seems to be simple. But as a whole, drastic changes can be made.
Try to grow native plants that are adapted to the climate of the locality. They may not require much water and fertilisers.
Dispose of toxic chemical substances like paint, bottles of medicines, plastics and other hazardous materials properly. Don’t throw it into the water bodies.
Avoid tiling the foreground in front of the house. By doing so, the rainwater may not trap in the soil and this will lead to the reduction of groundwater in the surroundings.
Protect the ponds and wells by not throwing trash into them.
Nowadays water-conserving models of sanitary items are available in the market. Try to choose those kinds of models.
Make sure there is no leakage in the toilets and household taps.
Wash the vegetables, clothes and motor vehicles by using a limited amount of water.
Use environment-friendly products like lime juice, vinegar, etc. for washing utensils. This type of product may not harm the environment and the water bodies.
Oceans are the main sources of water. When you are going for a picnic on beaches, do not throw any plastic bottles or waste products into the water.
Educate the children about the importance of water and teach them the methods to save our hydrosphere from today onwards. Small changes that start from each house lead to a big effect which results in retaining the beauty of the environment.
An oil spill is also one of the main reasons why the hydrosphere gets affected. Because the dispersion of oil over the surface of the water forms a thin layer that affects the evaporation process. In a way, the hydrosphere gets affected drastically.
Thus, it is our duty to save our land and water from getting affected by chemical hazards and abuse of water bodies. Industrial waste and human waste are the main problems affecting our hydrosphere. By knowing the importance of this, we should take care of this without any fail.