environmetal science vocabulary
matter
any material that has mass and occupies space.
atom
the basic of matter; the smallest unit that maintains the chemical properties of an element.
element
a chemical substance with a unique set of properties that cannot be broken down into substances with other properties.
nucleus
the central core of an atom; consists of protons and neutrons.
molecule
a combination of two or more atoms.
compound
a substance combining atoms of two or more different elements.
hydrocarbon
an organic compound combining hydrogen and carbon.
solution
a mixture in which all the ingredients are evenly distributed.
macromolecules
a large organic molecule; includes proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, and lipids.
protein
an organic compound made up of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sometimes sulfur.
nucleic acid
the macromolecules that carries hereditary information; includes DNA and RNA
carbohydrate
an organic compound that consists of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
lipid
chemically diverse compound that does not dissolve in water.
pH
a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution.
feedback loop
a circular process that describes how an event is both a cause and an effect in the same system; can be a positive feedback loop or a negative feedback loop.
erosion
the removal of soil by water, wind, ice, or gravity.
geosphere
all of the rock at and below Earth’s surface.
lithosphere
sphere of Earth made up of the hard rock on and just below Earth’s surface; the outermost layer of both Earth and its geosphere.
biosphere
the Earth and all of its organisms and environments.
atmosphere
the thin layer of gases that surrounds Earth.
hydrosphere
all of the water- salt water and fresh water, in the form of liquid, ice, or vapor- above and below Earth’s surface and in the atmosphere.
crust
the thin layer of rock that forms Earth’s outer surface on land and in the ocean.
mantle
the layer of very hot but mostly solid rock beneath Earth’s crust.
core
the layer of Earth below the mantle.
tectonic plate
one of the rigid layers of the lithosphere.
landforms
a mountain, island, or continent formed by the collisions and separations of tectonic plates.
deposition
the movement and accumulation of eroded soil.
evaporation
a change in state from a liquid to a gas.
transpiration
the release of water vapor by plants through their leaves.
precipitation
the return of water from the atmosphere to Earth’s surface in the form of rain, snow, sleet, or hail, 81; the process of separating a solid substance(precipitate) from a solution.
condensation
a change in state from a vapor to a liquid.
aquifer
a spongelike formation of rock, sand, or gravel that holds water.
groundwater
fresh water found below Earth’s surface.
law of conservation of matter
the principle that states that matter can change form but cannot be created or destroyed
nutrient
matter that organisms need to carry out their life processes.
biogeochemical cycle
the circulation of nutrients through the atmosphere; also called nutrient cycle.
primary producer
an organism that can capture energy from the sun or from chemicals and store it; also called autotroph.
photosynthesis
the process by which primary producers use sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugars, releasing oxygen.
consumer
an organism that relies on other organisms for energy and nutrients; also called heterotroph.
decomposer
an organism that breaks down nonliving matter into simple parts that can then be taken up and reused by primary producers
cellular respiration
the process by which organisms use oxygen to release the chemical energy of sugars, producing carbon dioxide and water.
eutrophication
the introduction of phosphorus into a body of water that leads to an overgrowth of algae and other producers.
nitrogen fixation
the conversion of nitrogen gas into ammonia.
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