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any compound that releases hydrogen ions when combined with water

A horizon

zone of weathered rock, some organic material, the zone of leaching, topsoil


measure of the base content of water

barrier island

long, narrow island parallel to the mainland, created by buildup of deposited sediments, protects the coast from erosion

B horizon

receives all minerals leached out of A horizon, zone of illuviation

C horizon

consists of larger rock that hasn't undergone weathering


transfer of heat/electricity through a medium, from particle to particle


vertical movement of matter because of heating and cooling

Coriolis effect

Earth's surface at the equator is moving faster than the poles, creating major prevailing winds that distribute heat unevenly; winds deflected right in the Northern hemisphere and left in the Southern hemisphere


triangular alluvial deposit (of sediments) at the mouth of a river


5 degrees north and south of equator, Intertropical Convergence Zone; here, trade winds converge and produce convectional storms; air constantly rising, not blowing

horse latitudes

30-35 degrees north and south of equator, subsiding dry air and high pressure results in very weak winds

jet stream

high-speed wind in upper troposphere; have large influence on local weather patterns


land heats up and cools down faster than water does; hot dry air rises, replaced by cooler moist air blowing from ocean, which also rises and creates seasonal rainfall



El Nino

normal trade winds are reversed due to a reversal of pressure systems on either side of the tropical Pacific (Southern Oscillation); upwelling in Central and North America's coast stops, water warmer and contains fewer nutrients; offshore fish populations decline


drainage basin, land area that drains into a particular stream

Freshwater layers

epilimnion - upper, most oxygenated
thermocline - demarcation line, at which temperature shifts dramatically
hypolimnion - lower, colder, denser layer

littoral zone

very shallow freshwater layer, abundant sunlight; extends as far as rooted plants grow

limnetic zone

open water; extends as far as sunlight penetrates

profundal zone

aphotic zone - zone that light can't reach

benthic zone

deepest layer in a freshwater lake

coastal zone

between the shore and the end of a continental shelf

euphotic zone

photic, upper layers of water; warmest region, highest levels of dissolved oxygen

bathyal zone

middle region, insufficient light for photosynthesis

abyssal zone

very cold, dark, low oxygen levels, but high level of nutrients because of decaying plant and animal matter that sinks down from zones above

red tide

toxic algal bloom that kills fish and poisons beds of filter feeders (oysters, mussels)


seasonal movement of water from the cold and nutrient-rich bottom to surface; provide new nutrient supply for growth of living organisms

interbasin transfer

water transported very long distances from its source, through aqueducts or pipelines

Ring of Fire

seismograph active area encircling the Pacific Ocean

Anadromous Fish Conservation Act

protected fish that live in the sea but grow up and breed in freshwater

Marine Mammal Protection Act

federal responsibility in protecting marine mammal considered threatened or endangered

Food Security Act

"Swampbuster", discouraged conversion of wetlands to nonwetlands

National Environmental Protection Act of 1970


Endangered Species Act

broad protection of threatened or endangered species


Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, international agreement that prohibited the capture, transport, and sale of endangered or threatened species

mangrove swamps

coastal wetlands in tropical and subtropical regions; constantly replenished by nutrients from freshwater runoff, huge diversity of animals, support bacteria, decomposers, oysters, worms, that feed fish and shrimp

mineral deposit

area in which a particular mineral is concentrated

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