The Hydrologic Cycle and Desert Landscape

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The critical thinking assignment for this week entails two questions, describe the hydrologic cycle and apply it to where I live, and secondly choose a landscape either glacial or desert and describe how it forms, as well as the landscape features found on it. I will use this essay to answer both questions. I will be using my hometown of Napa California to answer the first question and I have selected the Mojave Desert landscape to answer the second question.
The hydrologic cycle is how water moves through the natural process of evaporation, condensing as clouds and then falling back to the earth as rain, sleet, snow or fog. The Hydologic Cycle as defined by Lutgens F. and Tarbuck E. (2013), “The unending circulation of Earth’s water supply. The cycle is powered by energy from the sun and is characterized by continuous exchanges of water among the oceans, the atmosphere, the geosphere and the biosphere.” In Napa California the hydrologic cycle is when water enters the system as rainfall and leaves the system as either runoff to the San Francisco Bay or evaporates back into the cycle.
The rainfall in the Napa valley varies with elevation, from 25 to 55 inches per year with the larger rainfall coming from the north end of the valley. Snow falls occasionally on both Mount Veeder to the south and Mount Saint Helena to the north. The surface runoff increases with intensified land use, for example the largest runoffs occur within the populated city area where there are many streets, roofs and parking lots. The channel flow of the valley leads to the Napa River, which is fed by the streams, creeks and runoff. The annual water flow in the Napa River varies from near zero to over 400,000 acre feet. The natural ground water in the Napa Valley has been negatively impacted by the growing amount of local vineyards as most of the valley’s groundwater goes toward irrigation. The Napa Valley is considered the wine capitol of the world. With the increase of wineries and vineyards throughout the valley, the State Department of Water Resources has implemented a long term monitoring program to monitor the groundwater levels and enforce restrictions. Living in the Napa Valley one can literally see evapotranspiration take place. During spring winter and fall, the moist fog rolls in and covers the valley like a blanket, as the sun rises and begins to heat the valley the fog...

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