4-14 earth vocab

Earth vocabulary Due 4/14
Atmosphere: envelope of gases that surround the earth. Protects us from UV rays. Composition: 78% N2,
21% O2; when did it form? How?
ozone vs. atmospheric oxygen: ozone = 3 molecules of oxygen, harmful at ground level, ozone pollution is
highest during sunny days. Atmospheric oxygen (oxygen we breathe) is 2 molecules of oxygen, produced by
plants (product of photosynthesis)
ozone layer: layer of ozone in the upper atmosphere. Protects us from UV rays. Ozone hole is caused by
CFCs that break apart the ozone molecule. How did the ozone layer form?
particulates: tiny solid pieces in the air. Examples: dust, soot, dirt; No burn days trying to reduce
particulate levels in the air. Caused by:
acid rain: precipitation with less than a pH of 5.0; caused by nitrogen and sulfur compounds. Source: power
plants, car exhaust, emissions from other factories. Effects: damages aquatic ecosystems, vegetation, plants &
soil. Also damages stone buildings and statues, corrodes metal structures.
weather: current condition of atmosphere – temperature (current, high & low), dew point, humidity, wind
speed , clouds
climate: typical weather pattern over a long time. Example: average winter lows, highs; annual snow pack
average temperature for seasons (desert climates, rainforest climate, etc.)
depletion: the using up or destruction of natural resources. Natural Resources: found in nature, is necessary
or useful to humans like timber, fresh water, mineral deposits, fossil fuels.
fossil fuel: energy rich substance that forms over millions of years from the remains of ancient plants & animal;
burned to release chemical energy. Examples: coal, oil, natural gas
carbon cycle: CO2 in atmosphere  plants (photosynthesis)  animals  ground (by decay of dead things) 
back to atmosphere by respiration. Humans influencing through burning of fossil fuels (car exhaust, factory &
power plant emissions) so that the CO2 levels are increasing (30 % in last 200 years)
Plants get carbon from the AIR
nitrogen cycle: Plants get nitrogen from the soil & water after it has been fixed. N2 is 78% in the atmosphere
& is unusable. Nitrogen is fixed by lightning and bacteria in the soil (at plant roots or by nitrogen-fixing
bacteria in the soil). Nitrogen in plants  animals  back to the soil through decay of dead things & waste 
back to atmosphere through denitrifying bacteria and human influence (burning fossil fuels – car exhaust,
emissions from power plants & factories, N-rich fertilizers).
water cycle: driven by the sun. the water that was here when there were dinosaurs is still here because the
Earth is a closed system. Sun moves water through evaporation, the water cools down and turns into liquid
(condensation: clouds & fog) and then water falls from the sky (precipitation – rain, snow, sleet, hail, etc.). If
water runs off over the land it is called runoff and when it soaks into the ground it is called infiltration.
During precipitation, run off and infiltration the water picks up pollutants; during evaporation the water is
cleaned (leaves most salt, dirt, and pollutants behind when evaporated)
Greenhouse gases: (GHG): Gases that trap/absorb the sun’s heat; CO2,
Water vapor, methane, ozone &nitrous oxide. Without greenhouse gases
the Earth would be too cold for life.
Greenhouse effect: natural heating of Earth’s surface by greenhouse
gases. Helps keep Earth warm enough to sustain life (without it life as we
know it would not exist & all water on Earth would be frozen)
Global Warming: Rise in global temperatures which are due to increases in
atmospheric CO2 from deforestation and burning of fossil fuels; relates
to the greenhouse effect.
reflect: light waves bounce off an object. All objects reflect some light waves.
Example: mirror reflects light
refract: bending of light as it passes through
transparent or translucent material. Straw in water
– looks like it is broken & in 2 pieces (light slows
down when it travels in water  bends); rainbow
absorb: when light waves are taken in by an object. Dark-colored objects absorb more light than light-colored
objects. Example: Dark t-shirts get hot on a sunny day because it absorbs a lot of light and light energy
changes to heat energy.
Coriolis effect: Movement of particles like air and
water are deflected to the right in the northern
hemisphere and to the left in the southern
hemisphere. This is caused by the rotation of the
Coriolis effect combines with the heat imbalance
(direct sunlight at the equator and weak sunlight
at the poles) to create distinct global wind system
that transports colder air to warmer areas and
warmer air to colder areas  balances the heat
energy on Earth. If the Earth did not rotate on its axis and remained stationary, the atmosphere would only
circulate between the polar region (high pressure area) & the equator (low pressure area)
Meteorology: meteor = “high in the air” ; study of atmospheric phenomena  clouds, raindrops, snowflakes,
fog, dust, rainbows, thunder & lightning, etc.
Topography: study of the change of Earth’s surface (in relation to elevation change)
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