Ecosystems and the Physical Environment
Biogeochemical Cycles
 A process by which matter cycles from the living world to the nonliving physical environment and back again.
Carbon Cycles
The worldwide circulation of carbon from the abiotic environment and back into the abiotic environment.
Fossil Fuels
Combustible deposits in Earth’s crust. Fossil fuels are composed of the remnants of prehistoric organisms that existed millions of years ago.
Nitrogen Cycle
The worldwide circulation of nitrogen from the abiotic environment into organisms and back into the abiotic environment.;
Nitrogen Fixation
The conversion of atmospheric nitrogen (N2) to ammonia (NH3) by nitrogen-fixing bacteria and cyanobacteria; part of the nitrogen cycle.
Nitrification
The conversion of ammonia (NH3) and and ammonium ions (NH4) to nitrate (NO3) by certain bacteria bacteria (nitrifying bacteria) in the soil.
Assimilation
The incorporation of a substance into the cells of an organism.
Ammonification
The conversion of nitrogen-containing organic compounds to ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4) by certain bacteria (ammonifying bacteria) in the soil.
Weather
The general condition of the atmosphere (temperature, moisture, cloudiness) at a particular time and place.
Climate
The average weather conditions that occur in the a place over a period of years. Includes temperature and precipitation.;

Rain Shadow

;

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An area on the downwind side of a mountain range with very little precipitation. Deserts often occur here.
Plate tectonics
The theory that explains how Earth’s crustal plates move and interact with boundaries.
Subduction
The process in which one tectonic plate descends under an adjacent plate.
Faults
Fractures in the crust along which rock moves forward and backward, up and down, or from side to side to side; usually found at plate boundaries.
Epicenter
The site at Earth’s that is located directly above an earthquakes focus.
Denitrifaction
The conversion of nitrate (NO3) to nitrogen gas (N2) by certain bacteria (denitrifying bacteria) in the soil; part of the nitrogen cycle.
Photochemical Smog
A brownish orange haze formed by complex chemical reactions involving sunlight, nitrogen oxides, and hydrocarbons.
Phosphorus Cycle
The worldwide circulation of phosphorus from the abiotic environment into organisms and back into the abiotic environment.
Sulfur Cycle
The worldwide circulation of sulfur from the abiotic environment into organisms and back into the abiotic environment.
Hydrologic Cycle
The water cycle, which includes evaporation, condensation, precipitation, and flow to the seas.;
Transpiration
The loss of water vapor from the aerial surfaces of plants.
Runoff
The movement of fresh water from precipitation and snowmelt to rivers, lakes, wetlands, and ultimately the ocean.
Groundwater
The supply of freshwater under Earth’s surface; stored in caverns and aquifers.
Troposhphere
The atmosphere from Earth’s surface to the stratosphere. ;Characterized by the presence of clouds, turbulent winds, and decreasing pressure with increasing altitude.
Stratosphere
The layer;
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