Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso


  • Nicholas Arndt
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_757-3


The hydrosphere is the combined mass of water in the atmosphere, at the surface, and in the interior of the Earth and of other planetary bodies. About 97 % of the total volume of the Earth’s hydrosphere (ca. 1.34 × 109 km3) is in the oceans; the remaining ∼3 % is in the continental ice caps (∼1.7 %), groundwater (∼1.3 %), lakes and rivers (∼0.013 %), and the atmosphere (∼0.0009 %). Up to five times the surface volume of the oceans may be present in the mantle, fixed in low concentrations in the structure of nominally anhydrous minerals. The near-sun orbit of the Earth, well inbound of the crystallization temperature of water, suggests that the Earth initially formed as a rather dry body and that most of the Earth’s water was likely subsequently supplied to the Earth by meteorites and cometary material soon after the Moon-forming impact (“Late Veneer”). Mars appears to have had a small liquid hydrosphere early in its history and retains water in ice caps and in the...


Bioorganic Chemistry Crystallization Temperature Surface Volume Planetary Body Anhydrous Mineral 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Maison des GéosciencesLGCA, Université J. FourierSt-Martin d’HèresFrance