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AP Enviro Vocab

AP Environmental Vocabulary

Abiotic non-living chemical and physical factors in the environment
Acid Deposition is rain or any other form of precipitation that is unusually acidic. It has harmful effects in plants, aquatic animals, and infrastructure. Acid rain is mostly caused by human emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds
Acid Rain mostly caused by human emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds which react in the atmosphere to produce acids
Alpha Particles consist of two protons and two neutrons bound together into a particle identical to a helium nucleus
Ammonification a term used in biology to describe the process by which decomposers change nitrogen in detritus to ammonium
Aquifer an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, silt, or clay) from which groundwater can be usefully extracted
Arable Land an agricultural term, meaning land that can be used for growing crops
Artesian Well a confined aquifer containing groundwater that will flow upward through a well without the need for pumping
B Horizon consists of mineral layers which may contain concentrations of clay or minerals such as iron or aluminum, or organic material which get there by leaching, below the O and A horizon
Bioaccumulation occurs when an organism absorbs a toxic substance at a rate greater than that at which the substance is lost
Biomagnification is the increase in concentration of a substance, such as the pesticide DDT, that occurs in a food chain
Biomass as a renewable energy source, refers to living and recently dead biological material that can be used as fuel or for industrial production
Biotic Potential the maximum reproductive capacity of a population under optimum environmental conditions
Biotechnological technology based on biology, especially when used in agriculture, food science, and medicine
Biomes are climatically and geographically defined areas of ecologically similar climatic conditions such as communities of plants, animals, and soil organisms
BOD is a chemical procedure for determining how fast biological organisms use up oxygen in a body of water
Bituminous is a relatively soft coal containing a tarlike substance called bitumen. It is of higher quality than lignite coal but of poorer quality than anthracite coal
C Horizon comes ‘after’ A and B within the soil profile
Carbon Cycle is the biogeochemical cycle by which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, pedosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere of the Earth
Carbon Dioxide is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms covalently bonded to a single carbon atom. It is a gas at standard temperature and pressure and exists in Earth's atmosphere in this state
Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless and tasteless, yet highly toxic gas. Its molecules consist of one carbon atom covalently bonded to one oxygen atom
Carcinogen refers to any substance that is an agent directly involved in the promotion of cancer
Carrying Capacity is the population size of the species that the environment can sustain in the long term, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment
Chaparral is a shrub land plant community found primarily in the U.S. state of California and in the northern portion of the Baja California peninsula, Mexico. It is shaped by a Mediterranean climate (mild, wet winters and hot dry summers) and wildfire
Clay is a naturally occurring material composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which show plasticity through a variable range of water content
Clean Air Act describes one of a number of pieces of legislation relating to the reduction of smog and air pollution in general. The use by governments to enforce clean air standards has contributed to an improvement in human health and longer life spans
Clear Cutting is a logging practice in which most or all of all trees in a harvest area are cut down
Commensalism is relationship between two organisms where one benefits and the other is not significantly harmed or benefited
Composting is the purposeful biodegradation of organic matter, such as yard and food waste
Darwin was an English naturalist who realized and presented compelling evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors, through the process he called natural selection
Decomposers are organisms that consume dead or decaying organisms, and, in doing so, carry out the natural process of decomposition
Deforestation is the logging and burning of trees in a forested area
Density Dependent describes a situation in which population growth is curtailed by crowding, predators and competition
Denitrification is a microbial facilitated process of dissimulator nitrate reduction that may ultimately produce molecular nitrogen (N2) through a series of intermediate gaseous nitrogen oxide products
Density Independent where other factors such as weather or environmental conditions and disturbances may affect a population's carrying capacity
Desert a landscape or region that receives very little precipitation. Deserts are defined as areas with an average annual precipitation of less than 250 mm
Dissolved Oxygen is a relative measure of the amount of oxygen that is dissolved or carried in a given medium
Divergent Evolution (1) is the accumulation of differences between groups which can lead to the formation of new species,
Divergent Evolution (2) usually a result of diffusion of the same species adapting to different environments, leading to natural selection defining the success of specific mutations
Drip Irrigation is an irrigation method which minimizes the use of water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone
Electrolysis way of separating elements by using electric current. This is being used in hydrogen cars. They are separating the hydrogen from water and making power from it
Endemic means prevalent or native. It can also be used in infectious disease where they are stable in a population with no inputs.
Energy sources - oil it is used in older power plants cars. It is extracted from the ground. The middle east has the most oil in the world. Current oil amounts are depleting rapidly.
Energy sources - coal the US has the most in the world. Current coal reserves should last us 300 years. Coal is mainly used in powerplants.
Energy sources - Natural gas it is the cleanest of the fossil fuels and one of the cheapest. The US has a big supply of natural gas.
Energy sources - Solar a renewable energy source. It is very costly and not very eficient.
Energy sources – Biomass mainly used in devloping countries used for fires. It can be used for making electricity if needed.
Energy sources – Wind renweable energy source uses wind turbines to convert wind in to energy. This is one of the more promising energy sources. It can be unreliable but cheap.
Energy sources – Nuclear was very promising but turned out to be costly because of storing the nuclear waste.
Epilimnion top most layer in a thermally stratified lake. Warmer, higher Ph and dissolved oxygen concentration then hypolimnion.
Erosion the processes that loosen and move particles from one place to another
Estuary marine ecosystems that consist of shallow partially enclosed areas where freshwater enters the ocean
Eutrophication the enrichment of water with nutrients. This speeds up the development of plants and algae which in turn uses to much oxygen and can kill fish if the conditions are right
Exponential growth the period during population growth when the population increases at an ever-increasing rate
Exotic an animal or plant that is introduced to a new foreign habitat. Most of the time the organism can not adapt. When it does it usually adapts so well it screws up a indiginous organism
First law of thermodynamics a statement about energy that says under normal physical conditions, energy is neither created nor destroyed
Gamma radiation a type of electromagnetic radiation that comes from disintegrating atomic nuclei
Glyphosphate herbicide sold under the name roundup from the 70s to 2000. Now it is used in almost every herbicide.
Gross national product (GNP) an index that measures the total goods and services generated annually within a country
Green revolution in the 1950's, 1960's, and the 1970's the world had increased agricultural production worldwide. This was due to the introduction of new plant species and new farming methods
Green house effect the property of carbon dioxide that allows light energy to pass through the atmosphere but prevents heat leaving from leaving. Similar to the action of glass in a green house
Greenhouse gases these are gases that help speed up the greenhouse effect. CO2, CFCs, and other gases destroy the ozone and therefore lets more heat in.
Heavy metals they are toxic metals. They are used in activites that make them pollute like driving. Some of them are copper , lead, and zinc
Hypolimnion dense bottom layer of a stratified lake. It is the coldest in the summer and the warmest in the winter.
humus soil organic matter. Plant matter that is decaying
Incineration method of disposing solid waste by burning. This can create useable energy. Many places are now digging up land fills and incinerating them save money by saving space
Industrial ecology a concept that stresses cycling resources rather than extracting and eventually discarding them.
Industrial revolution period of history where machinery took place of human labor.
Infectious disease a disease resulting from the presence of pathogenic microbial agents, including pathogenic viruses, pathogenic bacteria, fungi, protazoa, and multicellular parasites
Isotope atoms of the same element that have different numbers of neutrons
K strategist large organisms that have relatively long lives, produce few offspring, provide care for their offspring, and typically have populations that stabilize at the carrying capacity
Landfill a method of disposing of solid wastes that involves burying the wastes in specially constructed sites
LD50 a measure of toxicity; the dosage of a substance that will kill 50% of a test population
Lignite a type of coal. It has a high moisture content and is crumbly in nature. It is the least desirable coal.
Logistic growth the S population curve. It shows how populations exponential grow
Thomas Malthus he published an essay on human population. His idea was human population would grow exponential, while the ability to grow food would grow in a arithmetic manner. He also concluded that wars, famine, and disease would keep the population in check
Mitigation to lower, reduce the amount of
John Muir he formed the Sierra club to "explore, enjoy, and render accessible the mountain regions of the Pacific Coast" and to try to preserve these areas.
Mutualism the association between two or more organisms which all benefit
Mutagen physical or chemical change that changes the genetic material of an organism
Niche The total role an organism plays in a habitat. Also describes how an organism lives in its environment.
Nitrogen cycle Series of stages in the flow of nitrogen in ecosystems.
Nitrogen dioxide is the chemical compound with the formula NO2. It exists as a radical in nature.[1] One of several nitrogen oxides, NO2 is an intermediate in the industrial synthesis of nitric acid, millions of tons of which are produced each year.
Organophosphate A class of soft pesticides that work by interfering with normal nerve impulses.
Organic Any living or once living material. Including plant matter, animal decay and animal wastes.
Ozone A molecule consisting of three atoms of oxygen, which absorb much of the sun’s ultraviolet energy before it reaches the earth’s surface. Too much or too little can be harmful to earth.
Ozone Layer (1) layer in Earth's atmosphere which contains relatively high concentrations of ozone (O3). This layer absorbs 93-99% of the sun's high frequency ultraviolet light, which is potentially damaging to life on earth.
Ozone Layer (2) Over 91% of the ozone in Earth's atmosphere is present here.
PCBs organic compounds with 1 to 10 chlorine atoms attached to biphenyl which is a molecule composed of two benzene rings each containing six carbon atoms. The formula for PCB is C12H10-xClx.
Particulates Small pieces of solid materials, such as smoke particles from fires, bits of asbestos from brake linings and insulation, dust particles, or ash from industrial plants, that are dispersed into the atmosphere.
pH negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration; a measure of the number of hydrogen ions present. The pH level of a solution determines whether it is neutral acid or base.
Permafrost permanently frozen ground. Found in tundra biomes, no plants can grow through rock hard ground.
point source Pollution that can be traced to a single source such as a factory on a river.
Non point source Diffuse pollutants, such as agricultural runoff, road salt, and acid rain, that are not from a single, confined source.
Photosynthesis The process by which plants manufacture food. Light energy is used to convert carbon dioxide and water to sugar and oxygen. Takes place in the mitochondria of the plants.
Photovoltaic A cell that can direct convert light energy into electricity.
Radon Radioactive gas emitted from certain kinds of rock; can accumulate in very tightly sealed buildings. Forms in the rocks with by natural gas.
Rain Shadow area of land that has suffered desertification from proximity to mountain ranges. The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems, casting a "shadow" of dryness behind them.
Recycling reclaiming a resource and reusing it for another or the same structure or purpose.
R Strategist Typically, a small organism that has a short life span, produces a large number of offspring, and does not reach a carrying capacity. High Birth and death rates. Examples are many insects.
Rule Of 70 dividing the number of years it takes a population to grow to find the growth rate.
Sand One of the 3 particles in everyday soil larger then silt and smaller then gravel.
Second law of thermodynamics A statement about energy conversion that says that, whenever energy is converted from one form to another, some of the useful energy is lost.
Subsidy A gift given to private enterprise by government when the enterprise is in temporary economic difficulty but is viewed as being important to the public.
Sulfur Dioxide Or SO2. A compound containing sulfur and oxygen produced when sulfur-containing fossil fuels are burned. When released into the atmosphere, it acts as a primary pollutant.
Sustainability development Using renewable resources in harmony with ecological systems to produce a rise in real income per person and an improved standard of living for everyone.
Strip Mining A type of mining in which the overburden is removed to procure the underlying deposit.
Synergism The interaction of materials or energy that increases the potential for harm
Teratogen Chemicals that may cause deformed birth affects.
Thermal Pollution The releasing of warmer water into a aquatic zone raise the temperature and affecting marine life.
Taiga Biome having short, cool summers and long winters with abundant snowfall. The trees are adapted to winter conditions.
Transpiration Transportation of water to leaves and its evaporation from the surfaces of plants.
Tundra biome that lacks trees and has permanently frozen soil know as permafrost.
Watershed area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place.
Urban Renewal public efforts to revitalize aging and decaying inner cities, although some suburban communities undertook such projects as well. Including massive demolition, slum clearance
UV Radiation found in sunlight and is emitted by electric arcs and specialized lights such as black lights. As an ionizing radiation it can cause chemical reactions, and causes many substances to glow or fluoresce.
VOCs (1) compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility.
VOCs (2) Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants.
X-rays A way of taking images using wave lengths.
Created by: Garveydd