How are condensation and precipitation similar? The process by which water moves from place to place on Earth, above, and below the Earth's surface, is known as the water cycle. The total amount of water on the Earth has remained about the same for the past 4.50 billion years or so - since our planet's formation. As the planet cooled, water vapor present at its formation condensed to fill the oceans and other places, like inland lakes and rivers. The water is literally recycled by the processes of Evaporation, Condensation, and Precipitation.