AP Environmental Science

ABIOTIC
RELATED TO FACTORS OR THINGS THAT ARE SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT FROM LIVING THINGS; NONLIVING.
ACID
ANY COMPOUND THAT RELEASES HYDROGEN IONS WHEN DISSOLVED IN WATER. ALSO, A WATERY SOLUTION THAT CONTAINS A SURPLUS OF HYDROGEN IONS.
AIR MASS
ENORMOUS BODIES OF AIR THAT MOVE AS A UNIT
A HORIZON
A SOIL HORIZON; THE LAYER BELOW THE O HORIZON IS CALLED THE A HORIZON.  THE A HORIZON IS FORMED OF WEATHERED ROCK, WITH SOME ORGANIC MATERIAL; OFTEN REFERRED TO AS TOPSOIL.
ALKALINE
A BASIC SUBSTANCE; CHEMICALLY, A SUBSTANCE THAT ABSORBS HYDROGEN IONS OR RELEASES HYDROXYL IONS; IN REFERENCE TO NATURAL WATER, A MEASURE OF THE BASE CONTENT OF THE WATER.
AQUIFER
AN UNDERGROUND LAYER OF POROUS ROCK, SAND, OR OTHER MATERIAL THAT ALLOWS THE MOVEMENT OF WATER BETWEEN LAYERS OF NONPOROUS ROCK OR CLAY.  AQUIFERS ARE FREQUENTLY TAPPED FOR WELLS.
ARABLE
LAND THAT IS FIT TO BE CULTIVATED
ASTHENOSPHERE
THE PART OF THE MANTLE THAT LIES JUST BELOW THE LITHOSPHERE
ATMOSPHERE
THE GASEOUS MASS OR ENVELOPE SURROUNDING A CELESTIAL BODY- ESPECIALLY THE ONE SURROUNDING THE EARTH WHICH IS RETAINED BY THE CELESTIAL BODY’S GRAVITATIONAL FIELD.
BARRIER ISLAND
A LONG, RELATIVELY NARROW ISLAND RUNNING PARALLEL TO THE MAINLAND, BUILT UP BY THE ACTION OF WAVES AND CURRENTS AND SERVING TO PROTECT THE COAST FROM EROSION BY SURF AND TIDAL SURGES.
BIOLOGICAL WEATHERING
ANY WEATHERING THAT IS CAUSED BY THE ACTIVITIES OF LIVING ORGANISMS.
BIOTIC
LIVING OR DERIVED FROM LIVING THINGS.
B HORIZON
A SOIL HORIZON; B RECEIVES THE MINERALS AND ORGANIC MATERIALS THAT ARE LEACHED OUT OF THE A HORIZON.
CHEMICAL WEATHERING
THE RESULT OF CHEMICAL INTERACTION WITH THE BEDROCK THAT IS TYPICAL OF THE ACTION OF BOTH WATER AND ATMOSPHERIC GASES.
C HORIZON
A SOIL HORIZON; C IS MADE UP OF LARGER PIECES OF ROCK THAT HAVE NOT UNDERGONE MUCH WEATHERING.
CLAY
THE FINEST SOIL, MADE UP OF PARTICLES THAT ARE LESS THAN 0.002 mm IN DIAMETER.
CLIMATE
WEATHER CONDITIONS, ESPECIALLY TEMPERATURE AND PRECIPITATION, THAT REMAIN CONSTANT OVER 30 YEARS OR MORE
CONDUCTION
THE TRANSMISSION OR CONVEYING OF SOMETHING THROUGH A MEDIUM OR PASSAGE, ESPECIALLY THE TRANSMISSION OF ELECTRIC CHARGE OR HEAT THROUGH A CONDUCTING MEDIUM WITHOUT PRECEPTIBLE MOTION OF HTE MEDIUM ITSELF
CONVECTION
THE VERTICAL MOVEMENT OF A MASS OF MATTER BECAUSE OF HEATING AND COOLING; THIS CAN HAPPEN IN BOTH THE ATMOSPHERE AND THE EARTH’S MANTLE
CONVECTION CURRENTS
AIR CURRENTS CAUSED BY THE VERTICAL MOVEMENT OF AIR DUE TO ATMOSPHERIC HEATING AND COOLING
CONVERGENT BOUNDARY
A PLATE BOUNDARY WHERE TWO PLATES ARE MOVING TOWARD EACH OTHER
CORAL REEF
AN EROSION-RESISTANT MARINE RIDGE OR MOUND CONSISTING CHEIFLY OF COMPACTED CORAL TOGETHER WITH ALGAL MATERIAL AND BIOCHEMICALLY DEPOSITED MAGNESIUM AND CALCIUM CARBONATES
CORIOLIS EFFECT
THE OBSERVED EFFECT OF THE CORIOLLIS FORCE, ESPECIALLY THE DEFLECTION OF AN OBJECT MOVING ABOVE THE EARTH, RIGHTWARD IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE, AND LEFTWARD IN THE SOUTHERN HEMISPHERE.
CROP ROTATION
THE PRACTICE OF ALTERNATING THE CROPS GROWN ON A PIECE OF LAND TO REPLENISH SOIL NUTIENTS- FOR EXAMPLE, CORN ONE YEAR, LEGUMES FOR TWO YEARS, AND THEN BACK TO CORN.
DELTA
A USUALLY TRIANGULAR ALLUVIAL DEPOSIT AT TEH MOUTH OF A RIVER
DIVERGENT BOUNDARY
A PLATE BOUNDARY AT WHICH PLATES ARE MOVING AWAY FROM EACH OTHER.  THIS CAUSES AN UPWELLING OF MAGMA FROM THE MANTLE TO COOL AND FORM NEW CRUST
DOLDRUMS
A REGION OF THE OCEAN NEAR THE EQUATOR, CHARACTERIZED BY CALMS, LIGHT WINDS, OR SQUALLS.
DRIP IRRIGATION
A METHOD OF SUPPLYING IRRIGATION WATER THROUGH TUBES THAT LITERALLY DRIP WATER ONTO THE SOIL AT THE BASE OF EACH PLANT
EARTHQUAKE
THE RESULT OF VIBRATIONS THAT RELEASE ENERGY FROM WITHIN THE EARTH.  THEY OFTEN OCCUR AS TWO PLATES SLIDE PAST ONE ANOTHER AT A PLATE BOUNDARY
EL NINO
A CLIMATE VARIATION THAT TAKES PLACE IN THE TROPICAL PACIFIC ABOUT EVERY 7 YEARS, FOR A DURATION OF ABOUT ONE YEAR.
EROSION
THE PROCESS OF SOIL PARTICLES BEING CARRIED AWAY BY WIND OR WATER. EROSION MOVES THE SMALLER PARTICLES FIRST AND HENCE DEGRADES THE SOIL TO A COURSER, SANDIER, STONIER TEXTURE.
ESTUARY
THE PART OF THE WIDE LOWER COURSE OF A RIVER WHERE ITS CURRENT IS MET BY TIDES
FAULT
THE PLACE WHERE TWO TECTONIC PLATES ABUT EACH OTHER
GREEN REVOLUTION
THE TIME AFTER THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION WHEN FARMING BECAME MECHANIZED AND CROP YIELDSS IN INDUSTRIALIZED NATIONS BOOMED AS FARMERS BEGAN USING LARGE AMOUNTS OF CHEMICAL FERTILIZERS AND PESTICIDES
GREENHOUSE EFFECT
THE PHENOMENON WHEREBY THE EARTH’S ATMOSPHERE TRAPS SOLAR RADIATION, CAUSED BY THE PRESENCE IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF GASES SUCH AS CARBON DIOXIDE, WATER VAPOR AND METHANE THAT ALLOW INCOMING SUNLIGHT TO PASS THROUGH BUT ABSORB HEAT RADIATED BACK FROM THE EARTH’S SURFACE
HADLEY CELL
A SYSTEM OF VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL AIR CIRCULATION THAT CREATES MAJOR WEATHER PATTERNS, PREDOMINANTLY IN TROPICAL AND SUBTROPICAL REGIONS
HORIZON
A LAYER OF SOIL
HUMUS
THE DARK, CRUMBLY, NUTRIENT-RICH MATERIAL THAT RESULTS FROM THE DECOMPOSITION OF ORGANIC MATERIAL, WHICH IS ALSO A PRODUCT OF COMPOSTING ORGANIC WASTE.
HURRICANE
(aka: cyclone, typhoon)
A SEVERE TROPICAL STORM ORIGINATING FROM THE EQUATORIAL REGIONS OF THE ATLANTIC OCEAN OR CARIBBEAN SEA OR EASTERN REGIONS OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN, THAT TRAVELS NORTH, NORTHWEST, OR NORTHEAST FROM ITS POINT OF ORIGIN, AND USUALLY INVOLVES HIGH SPEED WINDS AND HEAVY RAINS
INNER CORE
THE SOLID IRON NICKLE CORE OF THE EARTH
INSOLATION
THE DELIVERY RATE OF SOLAR RADIATION PER UNIT OF HORIZONTAL SURFACE
JET STREAM
A HIGH-SPEED, MEANDERING WIND CURRENT, GENERALLY MOVING FROM A WESTERLY DIRECTION AT SPEEDS OFTEN EXCEEDING 400 KM (25 MILES) PER HOUR AT ALTITUDES OF 15-25 KM (10-15 MILES)
LAND DEGRADATION
DETERIORATION OF LAND QUALITY (TOPSOIL, ORGANISMS, VEGETATION, WATER QUALITY), USUALLY CAUSED BY ITS EXPLOITATION
LA NINA
A COOLING OF THE OCEAN SURFACE OFF THE WESTERN COAST OF SOUTH AMERICA, OCCURRING PERIODICALLY EVERY 4-12 YEARS AND AFFECTING PACIFIC AND OTHER WEATHER PATTERNS
LITHOSPHERE
THE OUTER PART OF THE EARTH, CONSISTING OF THE CRUST AND UPPER MANTLE, APPROXIMATELY 100 KM (62 MILES) THICK.
LOAMY
SOIL COMPOSED OF A MIXTURE OF SAND, CLAY, SILT AND ORGANIC MATTER
MANTLE
THE LAYER OF THE EARTH BETWEEN THE CRUST AND THE CORE
MONOCULTURE
THE CULTIVATION OF A SINGLE CROP ON A FARM OR IN A REGION OR COUNTRY; A SINGLE, HOMOGENEOUS CULTURE WITHOUT DIVERSITY OR DISSENSION
MONSOON
A WIND SYSTEM THAT INFLUENCES LARGE CLIMATIC REGIONS AND REVERSES DIRECTION SEASONALLY
O HORIZON
THE UPPERMOST HORIZON OF SOIL. IT IS PRIMARILY MADE UP OF ORGANIC MATERIAL, INCLUDING WASTE FROM ORGANISMS, THE BODIES OF DECOMPOSING ORGANISMS, AND LIVE ORGANISMS.
PHYSICAL WEATHERING
(aka: mechanical weathering)
any process that breaks rock down into smaller pieces without changing the chemistry of the rock; typically by wind or water.
PLATE BOUNDARIES
THE EDGES OF TECTONIC PLATES
PRIOR APPROPRIATION
WHEN WATER RIGHTS ARE GIVEN TO THOSE WHO HAVE HISTORICALLY USED THE WATER IN A CERTAIN AREA
RAIN SHADOW EFFECT
THE LOW-RAINFALL REGION THAT EXISTS ON THE LEEWARD (DOWNWIND) SIDE OF A MOUNTAIN RANGE. THE RAIN SHADOW EFFECT IS THE RESULT OF THE MOUNTAIN RANGE CAUSING PRECIPITATION ON THE WINDWARD SIDE.
RED TIDE
A BLOOM OF DINOFLAGELLATES THAT CAUSES REDDISH DISCOLORATION OF COASTAL OCEAN WATERS. CERTAIN DINOFLAGELLATES OF THE GENUS Gonyamlax PRODUCE TOXINS THAT KILL FISH AND CONTAMINATE SHELLFISH
R HORIZON
THE BEDROCK, WHICH LIES BELOW ALL THE OTHER LAYERS OF SOIL, IS REFERRED TO AS THE R HORIZON
RIPARIAN RIGHT
THE RIGHT, AS TO FISHING OR TO THE USE OF A RIVERBED, OF ONE WHO OWNS RIPARIAN LAND (THE LAND ADJACENT TO A RIVER OR STREAM)
SALINIZATION
OCCURS WHEN SOIL BECOMES WATERLOGGED FROM EXCESS IRRIGATION AND THEN DRIES OUT. AS THE WATER EVAPORATES, THE SALT CRYSTALLIZES AND FORMS A LAYER ON THE SOIL SURFACE. THIS EXCESS SALT PREVENTS THE GROWTH OF PLANTS
SAND
THE COARSEST SOIL, WITH PARTICLES 0.05-2.0 mm IN DIAMETER
SILT
SOIL WITH PARTICLES 0.002-0.05 mm IN DIAMETER
SOUTHERN OSCILLATION
THE ATMOSPHERIC PRESSURE CONDITIONS CORRESPONDING TO THE PERIODIC WARMING OF EL NINO AND COOLING OF LA NINA
SUBDUCTION ZONE
IN TECTONIC PLATES, THE SITE AT WHICH AND OCEANIC PLATE IS SLIDING UNDER A CONTINENTAL PLATE
THERMOCLINE
A LAYER IN A LARGE BODY OF WATER, SUCH AS A LAKE, THAT SHARPLY SEPARATES REGIONS DIFFERING IN TEMPERATURE, SO THAT THE TEMPERATURE GRADIENT ACROSS THE LAYER IS ABRUPT
THERMOSPHERE
THE OUTERMOST SHELL OF HTE ATMOSPHERE, BETWEEN THE MESOSPHERE AND OUTER SPACE, WHERE TEMPERATURES INCREASE STEADILY WITH ALTITUDE
TOPSOIL
THE A HORIZON OF SOIL IS OFTEN REFERRED TO AS TOPSOIL AND IS MOST IMPORTANT FOR PLANT GROWTH
TRADE WINDS
THE MORE OR LESS CONSTANT WINDS BLOWING IN HORIZONTAL DIRECTIONS OVER THE EARTH’S SURFACE, AS PART OF HADLEY CELLS
TRANSFORM BOUNDARY
ALSO KNOWN AS TRANSFORM FAULTS, BOUNDARIES AT WHICH PLATES ARE MOVING PAST EACH OTHER SIDEWAYS- LIKE THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT LINE
TROPICAL STORM
A CYCLONIC STORM HAVING WINDS RANGING FROM APPROXIMATELY 48-121 KM (30-75 MILES) PER HOUR
UPWELLING
A PROCESS IN WHICH COLD, OFTEN NUTRIENT-RICH, WATERS FROM THE OCEAN DEPTH RISE TO THE SURFACE
VOLCANOES
AN OPENING IN THE EARTH’S CRUST THROUGH WHICH MOLTEN LAVA, ASK, AND GASES ARE EJECTED
WATERSHED
THE REGION DRAINING INTO A RIVER SYSTEM OR OTHER BODY OF WATER
WATER-SCARCE
COUNTRIES THAT HAVE A RENEWABLE ANNUAL WATER SUPPLY OF LESS THAN 1000 m3 PER PERSON
WATER-STRESSED
COUNTRIES THAT HAVE A RENEWABLE ANNUAL WATER SUPPLY OF ABOUT 1000-2000 m3 PER PERSON
WEATHER
THE DAY-TO-DAY VARIATIONS IN TEMPERATURE, SIR PRESSURE, WIND, HUMIDITY AND PRECIPITATION MEDIATED BY THE ATMOSPHERE IN A GIVEN REGION
WEATHERING
THE GRADUAL BREAKDOWN OF ROCK INTO SMALLER PARTICLES, CAUSED BY NATURAL CHEMICAL, PHYSICAL, AND BIOLOGICAL FACTORS
WETLANDS
A LOWLAND AREA, SUCH AS A MARSH OR SWAMP, THAT IS SATURATED WITH MOISTURE, ESPECIALLY WHEN REGARDED AS THE NATURAL HABITAT OF WILDLIFE