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Chapter summary

  • The hydrosphere includes all the water that is on Earth. Sources of water include freshwater (e.g. rivers, lakes), saltwater (e.g. oceans), groundwater (e.g. boreholes) and water vapour. Ice (e.g. glaciers) is also part of the hydrosphere.

  • The hydrosphere interacts with other global systems, including the atmosphere, lithosphere and biosphere.

  • The hydrosphere has a number of important functions. Water is a part of all living cells, it provides a habitat for many living organisms, it helps to regulate climate and it is used by humans for domestic, industrial and other use.

  • Despite the importance of the hydrosphere, a number of factors threaten it. These include overuse of water, and pollution.

  • Water is not pure, but has many substances dissolved in it.