EARTH SCIENCES ( EAS 100) DEFINITIONS

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Department
Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
Course
EAS100
Professor
Solweig Balzer
Semester
Fall

Description
EARTH SCIENCES DEFINITIONS Chapter 1: Anthroposphere- the part of the natural system that has been modified by humans for human purposes Atmosphere- the mixture of gases, predominantly… nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor that surrounds the Earth Biogeochemical Cycle- a natural cycle describing the movements and interactions through the Earths spheres of the chemicals essential to life Biosphere- The totality of the Earth’s organisms and, in addition, organic matter that has not yet been completely decomposed Box Model- a simple, convenient graphical representation of a system Closed System- a system in which the boundary allows the exchange of energy, but not matter, with the surroundings Cryosphere- the part of the Earth’s surface that stays perennially frozen Earth System Science- the science that studies the whole Earth as a system of many interacting parts and focuses on the changes within and between these parts Energy Cycle- The flow of energy from the external and internal sources of the planet, which drive the cycles of the Earth system Experimentation-the act of experimenting or testing a hypothesis Feedback- a system response that occurs when the output of the system also serves as an input and leads to changes in the state of the system Flux- the amount of energy flowing through a given area in a given time Geographic Information System- computer based software programs that allow massive amounts of spatially referenced data points to be stored along with their characteristics Geosphere- the solid Earth Global Change- the changes produced in the Earth system as a result of human activities Hydrologic Cycle- the movement of water between the various reservoirs of the hydrosphere Isolated System- a system in which the boundary prevents the system from exchanging either mass or energy with its surroundings Negative Feedback- the influence of a product on the process that produces it, such that production decreases with the growth of the product Open System- a system in which the boundary allows the exchange of both energy and matter with the surroundings Positive Feedback- the influence of a product on the process that produces it, such that production increases the growth of the product Remote Sensing- continuous or repetitive collection of information about a target from a distance Reservoir- a storage place; a place in the Earth system where material or energy resides for some period of time Residence Time- the average length of time a given material spends in a reservoir Rock Cycle- the cyclic movement of rock material, in the course of which rock is created, destroyed, and altered through the operation of internal and external Earth processes Sequestration- materials that have such long residence times in a reservoir that they are isolated from the rest of the Earth system for long periods of time Sink- a reservoir in which the inward flux of matter exceeds the outward flux. (Opposite of a source) Source- a reservoir in which the outward flux of matter exceeds the inward flux. Steady State- a state in which the flux od matter into a reservoir exactly balances the flux of matter leaving the reservoir System- any portion of the universe that can be isolated from the rest of the universe for the purpose of observing and measuring changes Tectonic Cycle- the processes by which Earth’s major geologic features are formed Theory- a hypothesis that has been examined and found to withstand numerous tests Chapter 2: Albedo- the reflectivity of the surface of a planet Blackbody Radiator- a (hypothetical) perfect radiator of light that absorbs all light that strikes it and reflects none Celsius Temp. Scale- the temperature scale in which the zero reference point is the freezing temperature of water at surface atmospheric pressure and the boiling point of water is assigned a temperature of 100°C Conduction- the means by which heat is transmitted through solids without deforming the solid Convection- the process by which hot, less dense materials rise upward, being replaced by cold, dense, downward flowing material to create a convection current Degradation- the transformation of energy into a form that is less useful, or less available for work Energy- the capacity to do work Entropy- a measure of disorganization Fission- controlled radioactive transformation Fusion- the merging of the nuclei of lightweight chemical elements, particularly hydrogen, to form heavier elements such as helium and carbon Geothermal Gradient- the rate of increase of temperature downward in the Earth Gradients- a measure of the vertical drop over a given horizontal distance Gravity- the mutual physical attraction between any two masses, such as Earth and the Moon Greenhouse Effect- the property of the Earth’s atmosphere by which long wavelength heat rays from the Earth’s surface are trapped or reflected back by the atmosphere Heat- the energy a body has due to the motion of its atoms Kelvin Temp. Scale- the absolute temperature scale in which the foundation is the point where entropy is zero Kinetic Energy- energy that is expressed in the movement of matter Luminosity- the total amount of energy radiated outward each second by the Sun or any other star Potential Energy- the energy stored in a system Power- the amount of work done per unit time Radiation- transmission of hear energy through the passage of electromagnetic waves Radiatively Active Gas- gases in the lower part of the atmosphere that absorb outgoing radiation, thus preventing the radiative loss of heat Radiogenic Heat- heat energy produced by the spontaneous breakdown of radioactive elements Reflection- the bouncing of a wave off the surface between two media Spectrum- z group of electromagnetic rays arranged in order of increasing or decreasing wavelength Star- a large spherical mass of ionized gas that radiated heat as a result of thermonuclear reactions in its core Stratospheric Ozone Layer- the region of the stratosphere within which ozone (O3) absorbs radiation in the short wavelength region of the electromagnetic spectrum Thermodynamics- the set of natural laws that govern the transfer of energy from one body to another Tide- the twice daily rise and fall of the ocean surface resulting from the gravitational attraction of the moon and sun Work- the addition or subtraction to the internal energy of a system Chapter 3: Aerosol- a tiny liquid droplet or tiny solid particle so small it remains suspended in the air Atom- the smallest individual particle that can retain all the properties of a given chemical element Biopolymer- polymers that consist of organic compounds and are of biologic origin Bond- the electrical forces that draw two atoms together Carbohydrate- organic compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, of which sugars, starches, and cellulose are examples. Major food for animals. Chemical Elements- the fundamental substances into which matter can be separated by ordinary chemical means Chemical Sediment- sediment formed by precipitation of minerals from solutions in water Clastic Sediment- the loose fragmented debris produced by the mechanical breakdown of older rocks Colloid- a gel consisting of extremely fine particles dispersed in a continuous medium, usually a liquid Compound- the combination of one or more kinds on anion with on or more kinds of cation in a specific ratio Continental Crust- the part of the Earth’s crust that comprises the continents, which has an average thickness of 45km Core- the spherical mass, largely metallic iron, at the center of the Earth Crust- the outermost and thinnest of the Earth’s compositional layers, which consists of rocky matter that is less dense than the rocks of the mantle below it Crystal- a solid compound composed of ordered 3-dimensional arrays of atoms or ions chemically bonded together and displaying crystal form Density- the average mass per unit volume Glass- non-crystalline, amorphous solid Igneous Rock- rock formed by the cooling and consolidation of magma Inner Core- the central, solid portion of the Earth’s core Inorganic- chemical compounds of non-biologic origin Ion- an atom that has excess positive or negative charges cause by electron transfer Lava- magma that reaches the Earth’s surface through a volcanic vent Lipid- a chemically diverse group of compounds that do not dissolve in water, including fats, oils, waxes, and steroids Lithosphere- the outer 100km of the solid Earth, where rocks are harder and more rigid than those in the plastic asthenosphere Mantle- the thick shell of dense, rocky matter that surrounds the core Matter- substance that has mass and occupies space Mesosphere- one of the four thermal layers of the atmosphere, lying above the stratosphere Metamorphic Rock- rock whose original compounds and/or textures have been transformed to new compounds and new textures by reactions in the solid state as a result of high temperature and/or pressure Mineral- any naturally formed, crystalline solid with a definite chemical composition and a characteristic crystal structure Mineral Assemblage- the variety and abundance of minerals present in a rock Molecule- the smallest unit that retains all the properties of a compound Nucleic Acid- giant organic polymers built from molecules called nucleotides Oceanic Crust- the crust beneath the oceans Organic- compounds consisting of carbon atoms that are joined to other carbon atoms by a covalent bond Outer Core- the outer portion of the Earth’s core, which is molten Plasma- ionized gas with unique properties and characteristics Plutonic Rock- rock formed by the crystallization of magma underground Protein- molecule formed through the polymerization of an amino acid Regolith- the irregular blanket of loose, non-cemented rocks particles that covers the Earth Rock- naturally formed, nonliving, firm, and coherent aggregate mass of mineral matter Sediment- regolith that has been transported by any of the external processes Soil- the part of the regolith that can support rooted plants Volcanic Rock- rock formed from the volcanic eruption of lava or tephra Chapter 4: Asteroid- Most asteroids lie between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter Astronomical Unit- Unit of measurement; it is the average distance from Earth to the sun; 149,600,000km C
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