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Human Impacts on the Water Cycle Virtual Lab

A property developer wants to turn a forest into an urban area. Dive into the water cycle and model how human influences can impact different hydrological processes.

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Human Impacts on the Water Cycle

About this Simulation

Did you know the water you’re drinking may have once been part of a glacier in the Antarctic? In this simulation, you will learn how water moves around the Earth in a continuous cycle. You will also look at how human activities, such as deforestation and urban development, can impact different hydrological processes.

Pinpoint key hydrological stores and processes

Explore an overview of the water cycle and identify different hydrological stores. You may be surprised to learn how much of the Earth’s water is stored in the oceans! Then, explore how different hydrological processes move water between these stores in an interactive activity. Learn the definitions of precipitation, evaporation, condensation, transpiration, infiltration, interception, surface runoff, and groundwater flow. Apply this knowledge to figure out where in the water cycle each process belongs. 

Can you avoid causing a flood?

Using your knowledge of the water cycle, you will use a 3D model on our hi-tech holofloor to assess how human influences impact the water cycle. You will look closely at deforestation and urban development and how they affect interception, infiltration and surface runoff. You will have the ability to change different parameters and test your model to see if you manage to avoid flooding your town! You can repeat this activity as many times as you wish until you’re satisfied you have achieved the best possible outcome.

Help the property developer

At the end of the simulation, you will inform property developer Max about your findings so he can make an informed decision on his development plan.

Learning Objectives

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to:

  • Differentiate Earth's stores of oceanic and fresh water and describe the different forms freshwater stores can take

  • Describe connections between water cycle processes and hydrological stores

  • Construct models of how human activity can impact infiltration, interception, and runoff and interpret the outcomes.

Techniques in Lab

At the end of this simulation, you will be able to:

  • Importance of the water cycle
  • Length of the water cycle
  • Earth’s water finite amount
  • How human activities can impact different hydrological processes

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