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Transcript

Environmental Science Glossary

E

A

B

C

D

F

G

I

H

N

J

K

L

M

O

P

R

Q

W

S

T

U

V

X

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A

activists - people who often use protests and litigation to draw attention to specific environmental causes

anthropology - the study of humans from a biological, social, and humanistic perspective

astronomy - the study of the properties and behavior of bodies in outer space

archaeology - a subset of anthropology and generally studies past cultures through their material remains

astronomers - scientists who search for clues to the origin of Earth by the study of extraterrestrial bodies, especially the moon, Mars, and Venus

atmosphere - the layers of gas that surround Earth

anthropogenic - a human influence rather than a natural influence

ammonification - the second step of the nitrogen cycle when decomposers break down waste to form ammonium (NH4) compounds

adenosine triphosphate (ATP) - the energy currency of living cells

assimilation - when carbon is taken in or absorbed

autotroph - organisms that make their own food from simple substances, like carbon dioxide and water

aquifer - underground cavities that store most of the water humans use on a daily basis

acid - a substance with a pH of less than 7

acid rain - also known as acid precipitation, is formed when airborne pollutants combine with water vapor in the atmosphere and the pH of the precipitation decreases

aerate - mix air into soil

agriculture - the art and science of cultivating soil, growing crops, and raising livestock

annuals - plants that grow, produce seeds, and die within one year

B

biochemists - scientists who study the substances found in living organisms and the chemical reactions underlying life processes

biologists - scientists who study life

biology - the study of life

biomolecules - a molecule produced by a living organism

biennials - plants that live and reproduce in two years

C

chemistry - the study of matter and its properties

conservation - the protection, preservation, management, or restoration of wildlife and natural resources such as forests, soil, and water

conservationist - someone who practices or advocates conservation

crust - the outermost rocky layer of Earth

convergence - when tectonic plates move toward each other

cinder cone volcano - a steep volcano that ejects large chunks of rocks (cinders) during eruptions which collect around the volcano. Smaller than composite volcanoes.

composite volcano - The most dangerous type of volcano, found on oceanic-to-continental tectonic plate boundaries; erupts a large cloud of toxic gas and smoke. Larger than cinder cone volcanoes.

carbohydrate - one of four major classes of organic compounds in living cells and are an important source of nutritional energy

carbon - a chemical element that is an essential component of living matter which the chemical symbol C

chlorophyll - green-colored pigments in plant cells that absorb sunlight to provide energy for combining carbon dioxide and water to form carbohydrates

condensation - a process in which the water vapor cools and, due to its polar nature, collects in the atmosphere in liquid form

collection - occurs when the water reaches Earth and gathers as a larger body of water

climate - the current or past long-term weather conditions characteristic of a region or the entire Earth

conservation tillage - occurs when at least 30% of an agricultural area is covered with crop residue, such as corn stalks left on a field after the grain is harvested

crop rotation - the practice of cultivating different types of crops in a more or less definite succession in the same field, as depicted in the diagram above

D

divergence - when two tectonic plates move apart from each another

denitrification - the fourth step of the nitrogen cycle when bacteria convert nitrate (NO3-) back to gaseous nitrogen (N2) in soil or deep ocean waters

deposition - occurs when heavier chemicals fall to Earth as dry particles instead of forming precipitation

double-cropping - cultivating two crops in one year

E

Earth Day - April 22, 1970, Earth Day was established to promote public awareness of environmental issues

Earth science - the study of Earth’s nonliving systems and the planet as a whole

Earth scientists - scientists who study Earth’s history, formation, and structure

ecologist - an environmental scientist who attempts to understand how plants and animals depend upon their physical setting and upon one another to live

ecology - the study of interactions among and between organisms and their natural environment

environmental biology - the study of how organisms interact in their environment

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) - a U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to environmental protection

environmental impact statement - a document that details the anticipated consequences of a proposed project or action

environmental law - legislation that seeks to protect or enhance the environment by the application of legal means, addresses problems as diverse as the control of hazardous air and water pollutants, reclamation of surface-mined land, establishment of parks, and protection of biological diversity

conservationist - someone who practices or advocates conservation

environmental science - the study of interactions among physical, chemical, and biological components of the environment

environmental specialists - experts who specialize in studying the impact of humans on the population

environmentalism - a movement dedicated to preserving, restoring, and improving the natural environment among American citizens

element - a substance that cannot be broken down into simpler substances by physical or chemical means

exosphere - the outermost layer of the atmosphere found directly above the thermosphere, it experiences the least amount of gravitational force

earthquake - natural vibrations of the ground caused by movement along faults or along fractures in Earth’s crust

excessive loading - excessive use of fertilizer

evaporation - a process in which the water particles on the surface of a body of water absorb enough energy to become water vapor and escape the body of water

F

fertile soil - has the ability to produce large amounts of plant life, making it a necessary component of any food web including those containing humans

fixed nitrogen - nitrogen in a usable mineral form that may enter or can be assimilated into biological processes

G

Geochemistry - the application of chemical principles and techniques to geologic studies to understand how chemical elements are distributed in the crust, mantle, and core of Earth

geochemists - scientists who study the chemistry of materials such as rocks

geography - a field of science that deals with the spatial distribution of all phenomena on Earth’s surface along with their variation over time

geologists - Earth scientists concerned primarily with rocks and derivative materials that make up the outer part of Earth

geology - a field of science concerned with the origin of Earth, its history, its shape, the materials forming it, and the processes that are acting and have acted on it

Greenpeace - an international environmental organization founded in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1969 by a group of Canadian environmentalists

geological uplifting - part of the phosphorus cycle when sediments that contain phosphorus are lifted above the oceans and into mountain chains

greenhouse effect - the process in which greenhouse gases contain the radiation in the atmosphere

greenhouse gases - gases that absorb heat in the atmosphere and re-radiate some of the heat downward causing heat to become trapped in the lower atmosphere

granite - rock (magma that hardened under the earth)

H

hydrology - the study of Earth’s waters in relation to geological processes

heterotroph - organisms that cannot synthesize their own food from simple substances

high-resource environment - environments where nutrients, light, and water are readily available and temperatures and the length of the growing season are sufficient for most annual crops to complete their life cycle

humus - the dark-colored organic matter in soil that forms from decayed plants and animals, making the nutrients available for plants

I

inner core - a solid metal ball of nickel, iron, gold, and platinum with a radius of about 1,220 kilometers, has a temperature that is almost as hot as the surface of the sun

intraplate hot spot - an area in the middle of a tectonic plate where lava can seep through the plate and create a volcano

J

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K

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L

legislation - a set of laws

liability - responsibility for the consequences of an action

lava - the name for magma once it has risen above Earth's surface

low-resource environment - environments where nutrients, light, and/or water are not readily available

M

molecular biologists - biologists who study the characteristics of life at the molecular level by examining the DNA of living things and determining how the DNA can be impacted, changed, or altered

magnetic field - generated by Earth's outer core, Earth's magnetic field is crucial in protecting the ozone layer from solar wind

mantle - a layer of rock material near its melting point that is 2,900 kilometers thick and found between the crust and the core, can deform or change shape

mesosphere - the third layer of the atmosphere from Earth's surface and lies between the thermosphere and the stratosphere

magma - molten rock found inside Earth

micronutrient - required by living organisms in relatively minute or very small amounts

macronutrients - nutrients that organic life requires in substantial quantities in order to survive

mineral - a naturally occurring inorganic solid with a definite chemical composition

mineral parents - were once exposed rock surfaces that weathered and broken down into smaller fragments over time

matrix - means that the mixture of particles, aggregates (rock chunks), and pores (air pockets) of the soil are equally as important as the organisms and processes that occur within it

N

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) - created in 1970, provide a nucleus of officer-scientists for NOAA's environmental assignments, such as conducting research in NOAA laboratories

nitrogen fixation - the first step of the nitrogen cycle when bacteria convert nitrogen gas (N2) from the atmosphere into ammonia (NH3) and other usable forms

nitrification - the third step of the nitrogen cycle when ammonia is converted to nitrite (NO2), then to nitrate (NO3). The nitrate can then be used by plants.

nitrogen cycle - the continuous process where inorganic nitrogen is incorporated into organisms that transform it and eventually return it to the environment as excrement or when an organism dies and decomposes

O

oceanography - a branch of hydrology that focuses on oceans

ozone layer - a layer in the atmosphere with high concentrations of ozone (O3), that absorbs certain wavelengths of ultraviolet radiation

outer core - lies directly below the mantle and is about 2,250 kilometers thick, made of hot liquid, nickel, and iron

P

paleontologists - scientists who study fossils and ancient life

physical science - the study of chemistry, matter, energy, space, and time

physics - a branch of natural science dealing with the fundamental constituents of the universe, the forces they exert on one another, and the results produced by these forces

plate boundary - where tectonic plates meet each other

P waves - primary seismic waves that move in a compression motion through the ground and can travel quickly through both solids and liquids

photosynthesis - the process by which plants create their own food using carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight

precipitation - water that falls to Earth after it has acquired enough mass for gravity to attract it. Examples are rain, sleet, and snow

pH scale - used to measure an acid's ability to donate a hydrogen ion

perennials - plants that live for three or more years

porous - full of open spaces or pores, like a sponge

Q

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R

Richter scale - a logarithmic scale that measures the intensity of an earthquake

reservoir - Earth’s carbon storage compartments including oceans, terrestrial biomass, atmosphere, and fossil fuel deposits

S

Sierra Club - a social organization devoted mainly to two programs: 1) the participation in wilderness activities, such as mountain climbing, backpacking, and camping, and 2) the protection of the wilderness environments through political action

social sciences - scientists who are concerned with the origin and development of human society, and the institutions, relationships, and ideas involved in social existence

Superfund - created in 1980, a $1.6 billion trust fund to be used in the cleanup of toxic waste sites, many of them abandoned by the previous owners

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) - food stamps for low-income citizens

stratosphere - the layer of the atmosphere located above the troposphere, contains the ozone layer

S waves - secondary seismic waves that move transversely to the ground and can only travel through solids which makes them slower than P waves

seismograph - an instrument used to detect seismic activity

shield volcano - short round volcano commonly found at intraplate hot spots, has non-explosive eruptions with heavy lava flows that build up over time

shale - old, compressed seabed sediments

T

The Wilderness Society (TWS) - a nonprofit, member-supported organization devoted to the protection of U.S. wilderness areas and the development of a nationwide network of wild, roadless lands

thermosphere - the fourth layer of the atmosphere from Earth's surface

troposphere - the layer of atmosphere that we live in, contains 80% of all the mass of the gases in the atmosphere and 99% of the water vapor

tectonic plate - slow-moving layers of rock slabs that fit together at their edges like giant puzzle pieces and float on top of Earth's mantle

transform - when two plates move along or against each other

tsunami - caused when bodies of water are rapidly displaced or moved, which can occur during an underwater earthquake

transpiration - a type of evaporation in which the moisture from the leaves of plants is released into the atmosphere

U

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) - created in 1862, administers programs and services concerned with farmers and consumers

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) - works to advance the research of the development of current and developing energy sources

U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) - created in 1849, responsible for the nation's natural resources

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - created in 1970, an independent agency of the U.S. government that oversees federal programs relating to environmental pollution control

V

volcano - a vent through which molten rock and gas escape from a magma chamber

vegetative reproduction - storage organs can produce root and shoot buds that can grow into independent offspring

W

World Wildlife Fund - an international nonprofit organization dedicated to raising money for the protection of the world's wildlife and environment

water cycle - also known as the hydrologic cycle, the continuous movement of water through the environment

X

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Y

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Z

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USDA Youtube Channel

USDA Website

DOE Youtube Channel

DOE Website

NOAA Website

NOAA Youtube Channel

EPA Youtube Channel

EPA Website

DOI Youtube Channel

DOI Website