This week is World Water Week, a global conference organised by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), which aims to improve the governance and sustainable management of the world’s water resources. Water is essential for all life on earth. Whilst salt water is relatively abundant in the seas and oceans, the world’s fresh water reserves are much more limited. Since humans, plants and animals living on land are dependent on fresh water for their survival, there is a need for protection and sustainable management of this exhaustible resource.
Fresh water is created when seawater evaporates to form water vapour. When this vapour rises in the atmosphere, it forms small droplets in the air, more commonly known as clouds. The droplets will eventually fall back down as rain or snow. When the droplets or snowflakes fall on the land, they are collected into various fresh water reserves: ice caps, glaciers, ground water, lakes and rivers. Finally, the rivers transport the fresh water back to the sea and the water cycle begins anew.
The map of the week features the intricate network of lakes and rivers crossing the European continent. Furthermore, it also shows the river basins, the areas from which the collected rain and snowfall will eventually flow towards the different European seas. Have a look which rivers and lakes are nearest to you and find out where rain falling in your area will end up.
The data in this map were provided by the European Commission's Joint Research Center (JRC).