I'm writing an article about the hydrosphere for my website GeoWorld. I'm dividing the hydrosphere into the following seven categories:

1) the sea 2) surface freshwater bodies 3) underground aquifers 4) cryosphere (glaciers, permafrost, etc.) 5) atmosphere (water vapor and precipitation) 6) water in living things (e.g. blood, sap, etc.) 7) man-made water bodies (e.g. dams and reservoirs)

I just wondered if anyone can suggest an appropriate term for these categories. I'm tentatively calling them hydrozones (not a real word; I just thought it sounded appropriate).

Lest I create any confusion, I should point out that the hydrosphere and cryosphere are two different, though overlapping, entities. Technically, hydrosphere refers to water in its liquid form, while cryosphere refers to frozen water. Water vapor (a gas) is also different.

So, in summary, I'm looking for a word that describes the seven major forms and states water is generally found in on Earth, as listed above. Feel free to coin new terms, as I did. ;)

  • 2
    OP made me recall, the Seven-Headed Hydra – user98990 Mar 9 '15 at 6:48
  • I think Speight's choice of water systems makes much better sense. books.google.co.in/… – Kris Mar 9 '15 at 7:17
  • Maybe "word-net water", every word that has some connection with water or states of water (chemical term). – rogermue Mar 9 '15 at 12:27
  • You might want to consider the information given here, which may point to the existence of an eighth category of water. – Erik Kowal Mar 13 '15 at 3:57

Hydrozones is not a suitable word to your intention because hydrozoning has a different specific meaning; the practice of clustering together plants with similar water requirements in an effort to conserve water.

I therefore would suggest hydro-categories (hydrocategories); category: a classificatory division in any field of knowledge, as a phylum or any of its subdivisions in biology.

You may also check hydroforms or hydrotypes.


The expression water resources comes close to what you are referring to. It is used to indicate water in all its forms ( liquid , solid, vapour) that is or may be available to humankind:

  • Water resources are sources of water that are useful or potentially useful. Uses of water include agricultural, industrial, household, recreational and environmental activities. The majority of human uses require fresh water.

  • 97 percent of the water on the Earth is salt water and only three percent is fresh water; slightly over two thirds of this is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. The remaining unfrozen freshwater is found mainly as groundwater, with only a small fraction present above ground or in the air. (Wikipedia)

Distribution of earth's Water


1.3.2 Water Systems

Water systems, … often referred to as the aquasphere or the hydrosphere, refers to water in various forms: oceans, lakes, streams, snow-pack, glaciers, the polar ice caps, and water under the ground (groundwater) (Friedman, 1987; Parker and Corbitt, 1993; Stumm and Morgan, 1996).
James G Speight, Environmental Technology Handbook, 2nd Ed., CRC Press, 2000, p.16

Note the inclusion of snow-pack, glaciers, and even the polar ice-cap in the above defition.

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