How Much Water Exists On, In and Above Planet Earth?


Credit: Illustration by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

What you’re looking at is a little blue sphere which represents all of the water in all its forms on the planet Earth by volume.  This includes ice, liquid, freshwater and saltwater.  a diameter of about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) , with a volume of about 332,500,000 cubic miles (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers).

If it seems small, you need to consider that water represents only a thin film on or under the surface of our planet.  This sphere includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you and other living organisms.

To see more information regarding this picture, go here for the original article from the USGS.

Interestingly, only 4% of the water by volume on the planet is usable to human beings and most other life forms.  It’s always in some form of motion, whether it be evaporating, condensing, flowing, freezing, thawing, being consumed or being expelled.

Another interesting fact is that the majority of freshwater is not on the surface of the planet.  It’s in the groundwater and aquifers which flow under the surface.

If you want to know more about our Earth’s water, visit this article on the USGS website.