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How much water is on Earth?

Published Thursday, May 17, 2012.
Last updated: Thursday, May 17, 2012

Water Science Photo Gallery
How much water is on Earth?


If this bubble burst:

If you put a (big) pin to this bubble, and the water flowed out to cover the contiguous United States (lower 48 states), the new "United States Ocean" would be about 107 miles deep.

This drawing shows the size of a sphere that would contain all of Earth's water in comparison to the size of the Earth. The blue sphere sitting on the United States, reaching from about Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas, has 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). The 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, your dog, and your tomato plant.

Are you surprised that this water sphere looks so small? It is only small in relation to the size of the Earth. Remember, this image is a representation of 3 dimensions, so you are looking at volumes. What it does show is that, in comparison to the globe, the oceans lie in a "thin film" of water on the outer surface.

The data used on this page comes from Igor Shiklomanov's estimate of global water distribution, shown in a table below the image.

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