The water cycle is made up of different water stores. They are categorized as freshwater and oceanic (or saltwater) stores. Water flows between these stores via many different water cycle processes.

An overview of water stores on Earth. On the left there is a mountain with ice caps labeled as cryospheric water. Below the mountain is a source of freshwater labeled as lake and waterways. Deep below the soil surface is groundwater, and to the right there is the ocean. Arrows from the ocean indicate evaporation, with a water vapor labeled above.
Figure 1: Water is found all over the environment in freshwater and oceanic stores.

Oceanic Stores
Oceanic stores include all of the oceans and are made up of saltwater. Around 97% of water on Earth is found in these stores.

Freshwater Stores
Freshwater stores are found inland. Cryospheric water stores, such as glaciers and permafrost, contain most of the Earth's freshwater. The second largest store of freshwater is found underground, as groundwater. Roughly 1% of the water found on Earth is available as drinking water. found in lakes, rivers, water vapor and organisms.

Water moves relatively quickly through some stores, such as lakes, rivers, the ocean surface and atmospheric water vapor. Other stores, such as the deep ocean, groundwater and cryospheric stores, can retain water for thousands of years.