Discover Wildlife

Back to List

Water Worlds: Five Forms of Water in Canada

By Stephanie Bonner

Any map or globe will show you that water is the largest component of the earth’s surface, embracing this planet in one big blue hug! Living in a country that is encompassed by oceans, we also have the privilege of seeing water everywhere in between the coasts.  So, read on to learn a little more about the different forms of water you can find in Canada!

  1. Frozen Waters – So much of Canada’s fresh water is frozen in glaciers and polar ice caps. As snow at high elevations is packed down over time, the pressure creates glacial ice. When the melting rate of the glacier is greater than the rate of accumulation, the glacier recedes. With the climate warming, it is thought that glaciers will be extinct in a short while. You can still visit Canadian glaciers in B.C., Alta., Y.T., N.W.T. and Nunavut.
  2. Natural Filters – Groundwater exists everywhere underground and is not confined to channels the same way surface water, such as rivers and streams, is. An aquifer is an example of an underground water formation composed of permeable rock or loose material, which can provide useful quantities of water when found and tapped. These clean water pockets can vary in size from a few metres to hundreds of metres in depth.
  3. Wet Worlds – Wetlands are thriving ecosystems that not only filter sediments and toxic substances but also offer important habitat to a wide variety of Canadian species. Bogs, marshes, fens and swamps are a few examples of different kinds of wetlands, each functioning because of the amount of submerged or permeated water they offer to existing habitat. Over time, we have realized the immense value of wetlands, which is why efforts are continually underway to protect these wet worlds from being drained or developed on.
  4. Liquid Highways – Rivers, streams and creeks can be permanent or seasonal fixtures that channel water to lakes, seas and oceans. These liquid highways are ever-changing as a result of the volume and velocity of the water that flows within them. Usually, spring melt transforms the river banks by causing them to enlarge, which can affect the riparian habitat (the banks of a river or stream) over time. The species you’ll see in rivers, streams and creeks need to be well adapted to moving currents and increasingly oxygenated waters.
  5. Grand Habitats – Canada’s largest bodies of water, aside from the oceans, are ponds and lakes. While ponds, created through natural hollows or seasonal precipitation, tend to be still, lakes are fed by local rivers and streams. All water bodies are interconnected: the groundwater to the wetlands to the rivers and so on, creating a chain reaction in the hydrologic cycle (the continuous movement of water above, on top and below the earth’s surface). Canada is home to more lake area than any other country in the world, meaning that all the bodies of water we see should be respected and appreciated as each is a piece of the larger puzzle.

Next month in Take Five: Hottest places in Canada!