Did you ever wonder how much water is on Earth? Yes, the oceans cover about 71 percent of the Earth’s surface. But, volume is a concept that is hard to grasp.

How much water is on Earth? All the world's water
How much water is on Earth? All the world’s water. Source: The U.S. Geological Survey website

The image above shows all the Earth’s water, liquid fresh water, and water in lakes and rivers.

Spheres showing:

  1. All the water on, in, and above the Earth (sphere over the western U.S., 860 miles/1384.04 km in diameter).
  2. Fresh liquid water in the ground, lakes, swamps, and rivers (sphere over Kentucky, 169.5 miles/272.78 km in diameter).
  3. Did you even notice the tiny sphere over the U.S. state of Georgia? This is all the freshwater lakes and rivers on Earth (34.9 miles/56.17 km in diameter).

So, how much water is on Earth?

According to the info provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, the volume of the sphere that contains all of the Earth’s water sphere would be about 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3). That is a whopping 1.386 x 1018 tonnes of water! In other words, 1.386 times billions of billions of tons of water.

That’s all the water in oceans, icecaps, glaciers, lakes, rivers, groundwater, and water in the atmosphere.

In summary,

  • All the waters on Earth: 332,500,000 cubic miles (mi3) (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3) or 1.386 x 1018 tons of water.
  • All the volume of the freshwater on Earth would be about 2,551,000 mi3 (10,633,450 km3). That’s 1.06 x 1016 tons of water. Much of Earth’s freshwater is deep in the ground, unavailable to humans.
  • The volume of the freshwater in all the lakes and rivers on Earth (available to humans) is about 22,339 mi3 (93,113 km3). That’s 9.3 x 1013 tons of water.

Earth may be a watery planet, but, there are even more waters on some moons of our solar system.


M. Özgür Nevres
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