Variations of the water cycle are what lead to either extreme of water’s influence on the land surface: too little (drought) or too much (flooding). These variations are influenced by a wide number of factors, not all of which are completely understood, especially on the large scale.
On the small scale, the land surface and its local atmosphere will influence water flow, evaporation, and storage. On the large scale, the interactions between air circulation patterns, oceans, and the geomorphology of the continents lead to a more complex degree of variability of water cycling. Added to these factors is the influence of time: seasons or decades or centuries. This last type of variation is characterized by phenomena such as El Niño.
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