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Human Water Cycle

Water. It's an essential building block of life, constantly moving in a hydrologic cycle that flows in a continuous loop above, across and even below the Earth's surface. But water is also constantly moving through another cycle -- the human water cycle -- that powers our homes, hydrates our bodies, irrigates our crops and processes our waste. The tight connection between water, food and energy makes them dependent on one another.

Our increasing need for these three vital resources is forcing us to rethink how we manage and use our water supply. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has joined with NBCLearn to explore the Human Water Cycle. Check out these four videos to learn more about the connections between water, food and energy.

Episode 1. Water, Food & Energy

Scientists and engineers, including Greg Characklis at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, are studying the connections between water, food and energy in the human water cycle to develop new, sustainable ways of meeting our water needs.

 View video (5:46 min.)

Episode 2. Drinking Water

Safe, clean drinking water is a fundamental human need. Orlando Coronell at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is developing improved membrane technology to purify drinking water more effectively and efficiently.

 View video (4:59 min.)

cherries

Episode 3. Agriculture

Soil salinization prevents crops from taking up water and nutrients due to an excess of salt in the soil. Meagan Mauter at Carnegie Mellon University is developing technology to monitor salinity levels to allow farmers to make better watering decisions.

 View video (5:15 min.)

wastewater treatment plant

Episode 4. Wastewater

Wastewater is what gets flushed down the toilet, rinsed down the drain, and produced by places such as factories, workplaces, and homes. Kartik Chandran at Columbia University is changing the perception of wastewater by treating it more efficiently and creating energy from resources found in it.

 View video (5:00 min.)