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AP Environmental science review of key vocal and concepts for water unit


The process in the water cycle where water goes from plants into air, dew drops evaporating into sky/clouds


The process in the water cycle of rain water filtering through the ground, back into aquifers or groundwater supply


Process in the water cycle of water going from high to low, ending up in water basins such as lakes, rivers, etc


Process of water collected in clouds going down to ground, rain, snow, etc

Water cycle

Evap, precip, condens, runoff, percolation, transpiration, etc. Cycling of all water in biosphere

Water Availability percentages

97.5% of all water on earth is saltwater, 2.5% freshwater. Of freshwater, 87% is frozen, 13% liquid. Of liquid freshwater, 95% underground. ONLY 3% of liquid freshwater in lakes and rivers, only accessible part of water


MUST have all 3: hydrophytic plants, hydric soil, hydrology


absorb flood and rain water, filter water, provide habitat to many species, act as a barrier to storms, recreational location, store carbon, provide food

Hydrophytic Plants

plants that like water of wet areas, grow best in wetland environment

Hydric Soils

soils that indicate wet conditions-usually gray in color due to low oxygen levels


The creation of new "artificial" wetlands to compensate for those destroyed by development, expensive and more or less effective


The process of restoring wetlands to their natural cycling and habitat to make up for damages occurred from draining


an attempt to regain something lost, in terms of wetlands lost or no longer usable

Bureau of Reclaimation

Name of the dam building committee, ironic how it ended up damaging rivers and lake ecosystems


layers of water in the earth, caverns of water, wet rock. Confined aquifer=between two layers of impermeable rock, unconfined=access to permeable soil or water table, allowing infiltration and new water to be added

Artesian Well

a well accessing only confined aquifers, water is potentially cleaner because no external sources of water, aquifer is confined

Cone of depression

created when pumping out ground water too quickly, an underground suction force around the aquifer, can cause soil to be sucked up well

Water Table

upper level of water in the soil, goes down during dry weather, up during floods


refilling of aquifers from percolation, slow process, not all aquifers recharge, water is unsustainable when recharge is slower than use of water (almost always)

Ogallala Aquifer

Largest aquifer in the world, located in the midwest US, essentially no recharge, use is 40 times faster than recharging

Saltwater Intrusion

coastal areas, large amounts of well pumping causes salt water to be sucked into well, taints water, caused by cone of depression


A gasoline additive, common water pollutant, carcinogen in animals and potentially humans, in groundwater from leaky gas storage tanks


toxic metal found naturally in some rock that wells drilled in, common water pollutant


phase of lakes life cycle, "baby phase", low nutrients (NPK), low algae/plants, high water clarity, cold water temp, high dissolved O2, sandy/rocky bottom


phase of lakes life cycle, middle phase, moderate nutrients, algae/plants, temp, dissolved O2; rocky/mucky bottom


phase of lakes life cycle, oldie phase, high nutrients (fertilizer), high algae/plants, low water clarity (pea soup), high water temp+activity, low dissolved O2 levels, organic mushy muck bottom

Cultural eutrophication

Eutrophication of a lake is a natural process, but addition of fertilizers from runoff speeds up this process in a bad way, making lakes "die" earlier. Main nutrients added NPK, common in fertilizers and phosphate detergents

Steps of Eutrophication

1)nutrients added to water, stimulates plant growth. 2)Algal Blooms occur in water. 3) Algae die, decomposed by bacteria. 4)All oxygen used up to decompose lots of dead algae. 5)Oxygen depleted are (hypoxic zone) is "dead zone" area of no life

Point Source Pollution

pollution from a single, traced source, very rare as most pollutants can't be completely traced. drain pipes, effluent or sewage treatment

Non-point source pollution

polltion scattered, can't be traced to a single source. fertilizer runoff, sediment, pollution from lawns

Major Sources of water pollution

Top source:agriculture, industry, mining

Oxygen demanding waste

wastes that deplete water of DO, anything that is biodegradable qualifies. Bacteria decompose this, they use oxygen to do so

Biological Oxygen Demand

demand from organisms (bacteria) for oxygen use in an ecosystem. stream with lots of biodegradable waste will have high BOD, common water test to test for pollution

Oil Pollution

most actually from land, oil kills organisms due to volatile compounds. Oil settle in organisms in food chain for years, spill cleanup only recovers about 15% of spill

Tar balls

coat feathers and fur of animals in oil spill, reduces buoyancy and movement

Exxon Valdez

famous oil spill in prince william sound AK, second biggest in history 11-25 Million gallons of oil spilled approx

Deepwater Horizon (BP)

Biggest oil spill EVER in gulf of MX, oil rig explosion, 2.5/4 mil gallons/day, open from 4/20-7/15. effects still present in ecosystem, many effects unknown

N-P-K Ratios

amount of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium in fertilizers, important to see what nutrients are depleted in your lawn to buy an efficient fertilizer for you

Hypoxic/dead zone

an area, typically a lake, which is depleted of oxygen due to process of (cultural) eutrophication, most organisms die because of living conditions


area where freshwater meets saltwater, MUCH growth and biodiversity here, as many organisms can live. greatest area of NPP


describing an area of salt and fresh water, see estuary, briny

Coral Reef

coral=keystone species forms calcium carbonate shell. very high biodiversity, high salinity, constant temps, high GPP, high sun exposure


brownish yellow algae found in coral, necessary component in coral ecosystem

Pelagic Zone

open ocean, not near land

Bathyal Zone

pelagic biome receiving little to no sunlight, lower biodiversity because lack of plants because of low sun exposure

Euphotic Zone

pelagic biome receiving lots of sun, little substrate, high biodiversity

Abyssal Zone

pelagic biome receiving no sunlight, bottom of the ocean floor, high salinity

Benthic Zone

bottom under body of water

Intertidal zone

tide pools, where water shifts over and off of area


the area which a certain body of water (e.g. Mississippi) provides to. MS is biggest one in US

Lake stratification

water densest at 39º F, winter layered, autumn and spring turnovers, summer layering


temperature gradient in water

Water conservation

using less water, strategies like graywater, low flow showers, center pivot irrigation, rain barrels, low flush toilets, drip irrigation, Xeriscaping; wasting less water to conserve

Water diversion

the manipulation of water for human benefit, mainly dams. this allows life in areas otherwise too dry

Primary treatment

removing large solids by filtering out waste, bar screens used

Secondary treatment

settling tanks remove mud/sediment, bacteria put in water to eat away dissolved solids

Tertiary treatment

removing chemicals in water still remaining after bacteria, e.g. hormones, pesticides, preventing them from entering back into water sources. EXTREMELY experimental and rare

WT Biological oxygen demand

common water test to see how much oxygen demanding wastes are in the water

WT Dissolved Oxygen

amount of oxygen present in the water and available for organisms to use, colder H2O temps allow for more DO

WT Fecal Coliform

measuring amount of harmful bacteria in the water, often from organic fertilizers (manure) flowing into river

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