Guide to Geography: Chapter 2 - Physical Geography

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physical geography

the study of the physical features and phenomena of the earth

hydrology

the study of water on earth and in the atmosphere

meteorology

the study of the atmosphere and of weather

biology

the study of living things

rotation

the spinning of the earth on its axis

revolution

the earth's orbit around the sun

weather

The condition of Earth's atmosphere at a particular time and place.

climate

the long term, average weather conditions over an extended period of time for a large region of the earth

Wladimir Koppen

This German botonist and climatologist introduced a system of climatic classification. He established 5 major climates and their subdivisions based on temperature and precipitation. Later a 6th zone was added.

reradiation

As the sun's rays penetrate the earth's atmosphere and strike the earth's surface, the surface absorbs light energy from the sun and changes it to heat energy that warms the air. Name this process.

elevation

distance of something above a the reference point of sea level

14.7 lbs

What is the weight of the atmosphere per square inch at sea level?

wind

air moving (sometimes with considerable force) from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure

Tornado Alley

This location experiences the highest number of tornadoes per year- includes the Central Plains states of kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Missouri.

New Orleans

Intense rain and storm surges caused massive flooding in this Louisiana city in 2005, effectively shutting the city down for months.

Hurricane Katrina

This cyclone caused massive flooding in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2005.

cyclone

an area in the atmosphere that has lower pressure than the surrounding areas and has winds that spiral toward the center

typhoon

A tropical storm with whirling wind and a center of low pressure that develops over the Pacific Ocean, with winds that reach speeds greater than 74 miles per hour.

clockwise

In the Southern Hemisphere, cyclonic winds spin in what direction?

counter-clockwise

In the Northern Hemisphere, cyclonic winds spin in what direction?

monsoon

rainy season in southern Asia (and elsewhere) when the southwestern winds blow, bringing heavy rains

Pangaea

The supercontinent formed near the end of the Paleozoic era when plate movements brought all the landmasses of Earth together.

continental drift

the hypothesis that states that the continents once formed a single landmass, broke up, and drifted to their present locations

lithosphere

the solid, outer layer of the earth that consists of the crust and the rigid upper part of the mantle

asthenosphere

The solid, plastic layer of the mantle beneath the lithosphere; made of mantle rock that flows very slowly, which allows tectonic plates to move on top of it

subduction

a geological process in which one edge of a crustal plate is forced sideways and downward into the mantle below another plate

Mariana Trench

Located in the Western Pacific, this is the deepest known spot in the ocean.

San Andreas Fault

This area of California is where the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate slide past each other with jerks and jolts, frequently causing earthquakes.

Ring of Fire

A geographic zone that extends along the rim of the Pacific Ocean and has numerous volcanoes and earthquakes. 75% of the world's volcanoes are located here.

earthquake

shaking and vibration at the surface of the earth resulting from underground movement along a fault plane or from volcanic activity

Richter Scale

A scale that rates an earthquake's magnitude based on the size of its seismic waves. It is a logarithmic scale in which every whole number increase represents an earthquake ten times greater in magnitude.

epicenter

the point on the Earth's surface directly above the focus of an earthquake

Great Chilean Earthquake of 1960

At 9.5 on the Richter Scale, what is the worst Earthquake ever recorded?

tsunami

a large, destructive wave, generated by a major earthquake in or near an ocean basin

Indian Ocean Earthquake

In 2004, the 4th largest earthquake in recorded history happened, clocking in at 9.1, on the Richter Scale and generating a formidable tsunami which damaged much of the coastline of Southeast Asia, causing 150,000 deaths and much destruction.

diastrophism

The process of building up the major features of the earth's surface through the movement and deformation of the crustal plates.

volcanism

any activity that includes the movement of magma toward or onto Earth's surface

magma

molten rock beneath the earth's surface

lava

magma that reaches Earth's surface

alluvial

pertaining to soil deposits left by running water

alpine glacier

Glacier occupying one or more valleys in a mountainous region, sliding down a mountain valley.

continental glacier

a thick glacier hundreds to thousands of kilometers across, large enough to be only partly guided by underlying topography

erosion

condition in which the earth's surface is worn away by the action of water and wind

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