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AP Environmental Science Review
Terms from APES for the exam
Terms in this set (155)
First Law of Thermodynamics
Energy is neither created nor destroyed, but may be converted from one form to another.
El Niño (ENSO)
prevailing winds in the Pacific weaken and change direction every few years which results in above average warming of eastern Pacific waters, which changes distribution of plant nutrients and alters earth's weather for 2-3 years
Reason for seasons on Earth
Tilt of the axis ~23.5°
Second Law of Thermodynamics
When energy is changed from one form to another, some useful energy is always degraded into lower quality energy (usually heat).
nuclei of isotopes split apart when struck by neutrons.
removal of dissolved materials from soil by water moving downwards through soil.
Soil Conservation Methods
conservation tillage, crop rotation, contour plowing, organic fertilizers.
in arid regions, water evaporates leaving salts behind. (ex. Fertile crescent, southwestern US)
Hydrologic Cycle Components
evaporation, transpiration, runoff, condensation, precipitation, and infiltration.
all of the land that drains into a body of water
any water-bearing layer in the ground.
Salt Water Intrusion
near the coast, overpumping of groundwater causes saltwater to move into the aquifer.
"Normal" year, easterly trade winds and ocean currents pool warm water in the western Pacific, allowing upwelling of nutrient rich water off the West coast of South America.
because atmospheric N cannot be used directly by plants, it must first be converted into ammonia by bacteria.
decomposers covert organic waste into ammonia.
ammonia is converted to nitrate ions (NO -).
inorganic N is converted into organic molecules such as DNA/amino acids & proteins.
bacteria convert ammonia back into N.
does not exist as a gas; released by weathering of phosphate rocks, it is a major limiting factor for plant growth. Phosphorus cycle is slow, and not atmospheric.
plants convert CO2 (atmospheric C) into complex carbohydrates (glucose C6H12O6).
oxygen consuming producers, consumers & decomposers break down complex organic compounds & convert C back into CO2.
living components of an ecosystem.
nonliving components of an ecosystem
organisms that make their own food—photosynthetic life.
producers → primary consumer → secondary consumer → tertiary consumer.
Energy Flow through Food Webs
10% of the usable energy is transferred to the next trophic level. Reason: usable energy lost as heat (2nd law), not all biomass is digested & absorbed, predators expend energy to catch prey.
development of communities in a lifeless area not previously inhabited by life (ex. lava).
life progresses where soil remains (ex. clear-cut forest, old farm).
symbiotic relationship where both organisms benefit (e.g. clownfish and anemone)
symbiotic relationship where one organism benefits & the other is unaffected (e.g. epiphytic plants, such as many orchids, that grow on trees)
relationship in which one organism (the parasite) obtains nutrients at the expense of the host (e.g. mosquitoes and humans)
the number of individuals that can be sustained in an area.
reproductive strategy in which organisms reproduce early, bear many small, unprotected offspring (ex. insects, mice).
reproductive strategy in which organisms reproduce late, bear few, cared for offspring (ex. humans, elephants).
organisms that possess favorable adaptations (through mutations) pass them onto the next generation.
The human population is kept in check by war, famine & disease. Did not foresee technological advancements like medicine.
(rule of 70) doubling time equals 70 divided by average growth rate. (ex. a population growing at 5% annually doubles in 70 ÷ 5 = 14 years)
Replacement Level Fertility
the number of children a couple must bear to replace themselves (2.1 developed, 2.7 developing).
slightly over 7.4 billion.
Demographic Transition Model
preindustrial, transitional, industrial, and postindustrial stages
birth & death rates high, population grows slowly, infant mortality high.
Aid from other countries and increase in industrialization lowers death rates (infant mortality). Birth rates high (from of the amount of people in the reproductive stage).
decline in birth rate, population growth slows.
low birth & death rates.
Age Structure Diagrams
broad base → rapid growth; narrow base → negative growth (NPG); uniform shape → zero growth (ZPG)
Most populous nations
1)China 2)India 3)US 4)Indonesia
Low Economic/Social Status of Women
Most important factor keeping population growth rates high.
Methods to Decrease Birth Rates
Family planning, contraception, economic rewards & penalties.
Composition of Water on Earth
97.5% seawater, 2.5% freshwater. 0.023% readily available freshwater for use.
farming aquatic species, commonly salmon, shrimp, tilapia, oysters.
from specific location such as pipe or smokestack
from over an area such as agricultural (farm) runoff, traffic.
rapid algal growth caused by an excess of nitrogen & phosphorus.
species whose role in an ecosystem is important for the ecosystem's stability (manatee, alligator, sea otter, etc). Impact outweighs relative abundance
species that serve as early warnings that an ecosystem is being damaged (amphibians).
genetic resistance, ecosystem imbalance, pesticide treadmill, persistence, bioaccumulation, and biological magnification.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
new organisms created by altering the genetic material (DNA) of existing organisms; usually in an attempt to remove undesirable or create desirable characteristics in the new organism.
steam, from water boiled by fossils fuels or nuclear energy, or falling water is used to turn a turbine and generate a generator.
prehistoric plants buried undecomposed in oxygen-depleted water of swamps/bogs converted by heat and pressure.
consists of a core, control rods, moderator, steam generator, turbine, containment building.
Alternate Energy Sources
wind, solar, waves, biomass, geothermal, fuel cells
first layer of atmosphere 0-10 miles above the Earth's surface. Contains weather, greenhouse gases (bad ozone)
second layer of atmosphere 10-30 miles above the Earth's surface. Contains protective ozone layer (good ozone)
a warm layer of air above a cooler layer traps pollutants close to the Earth's surface.
Divergent plate boundaries
tectonic plates spreading apart, new crust being formed (Mid Ocean Ridge)
Convergent plate boundaries
tectonic plates with the oldest crustal material on Earth moving together, one moving under another. Mineral deposits and volcanoes are most abundant at convergent plate boundaries (Volcanic arc like Japan)
tectonic plates sliding past one another (San Andreas Fault Line)
Most Endangered species
have a small range, require large territory, have long generations, have very specialized niche, or live on an island
large distinct terrestrial region having similar climate, soil, plants & animals.
Tropical Rain Forests
characterized by the greatest diversity of species, believed to include many undiscovered species. Occur near the equator. Soils tend to be low in nutrients. Distinct seasonality: winter is absent, and only two seasons are present (rainy and dry).
occur in eastern North America, Japan, northeastern Asia, and western and central Europe. Dominated by tall deciduous trees. Well-defined seasons include a distinct winter. Logged extensively, only scattered remnants of original temperate forests remain.
Boreal Forests or Taiga
represent the largest terrestrial biome. Dominated by needleleaf, coniferous trees. Found in the cold climates of Eurasia and North America: two-thirds in Siberia with the rest in Scandinavia, Alaska, and Canada. Seasons are divided into short, moist, and moderately warm summers and long, cold, and dry winters. Extensive logging may soon cause their disappearance.
Temperate Shrub Lands
occurs along the coast of Southern California and the Mediterranean region. Characterized by areas of Chaparral-miniature woodlands dominated by dense stands of shrubs.
grassland with scattered individual trees. Cover almost half the surface of Africa and large areas of Australia, South America, and India. Warm or hot climates where the annual rainfall is 20-50 inches per year. The rainfall is concentrated in six or eight months of the year, followed by a long period of drought when fires can occur.
dominated by grasses, trees and large shrubs are absent. Temperatures vary more from summer to winter, and the amount of rainfall is less than in savannas. Temperate grasslands have hot summers and cold winters. Occur in South Africa, Hungary, Argentina, the steppes of the former Soviet Union, and the plains and prairies of central North America.
covers about one fifth of the Earth's surface and occur where rainfall is less than 50 cm/year. Soils may have abundant nutrients, need only water to become productive, and have little or no organic matter. Common disturbances include occasional fires or cold weather, and sudden, infrequent, but intense rains that cause flooding.
treeless plains that are the coldest of all the biomes. Occur in the arctic and Antarctica. Dominated by lichens, mosses, sedges, and dwarfed shrubs Characterized by extremely cold climate, permanently frozen ground (permafrost) low biotic diversity, simple vegetation structure, limitation of drainage, short season of growth and reproduction.
areas of standing water that support aquatic plants including marshes, swamps, and bogs. Reduce flooding. Species diversity is very high.
defined as having a low salt concentration (less than 1%). Plants and animals are adjusted to the low salt content and would not be able to survive in areas of high salt concentration (i.e., ocean). There are different types of regions: ponds and lakes, streams and rivers, and estuaries.
the largest of all the ecosystems. Regions are separated into separate zones: intertidal, pelagic, abyssal, and benthic.
Safe Drinking Water Act
set maximum contaminant levels for pollutants that may have adverse effects on human health.
Clean Water Act
Aim: to make all US waterways safe for fishing and swimming. set maximum permissible amounts of water pollutants that can be discharged into waterways. Require the repairment of damaged wetlands.
Clean Air Act
NAAQS for 6 criteria pollutants. Set emission standards for mobile and stationary sources, and limits release of air pollutants. Multiple amendments, most influential modern env. law
global agreement to phase out of ozone depleting substances.
Endangered Species Act
identifies threatened and endangered species in the US, and puts their protection ahead of economic considerations.
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA)
regulates the use and effectiveness of pesticides
a toxic chemical that kills plants
a toxic chemical that kills insects
a toxic chemical that kills rodents
a toxic chemical that kills fungi
organism's role in the ecosystem of which it lives
introduced into an ecosystem and out-compete native species
NO2, SO2, Pb, PM (2.5 and 10), O3, CO
6 criteria air pollutants
Top 4 indoor air pollutants in DEVELOPED countries
Tobacco smoke, Formaldehyde, Radon Gas, Fine and Ultrafine Particulate Matter
an infiltration of salt water in an area where groundwater pressure has been reduced from extensive drilling of wells
A series of processes on the surface and inside Earth that slowly changes rocks from one kind to another
Processes by which rock, sand, and soil are broken down and carried away (i.e. weathering, glaciation)
a method to maintain the fertility of the soil by protecting the soil from erosion and nutrient loss
different environmental conditions that occur along the boundaries of an ecosystem. May observe higher biodiversity
A process in which individuals that have certain inherited traits tend to survive and reproduce at higher rates than other individuals because of those traits.
the processes by which life-supporting resources such as clean water, timber, fisheries, and agricultural crops are produced
gradual change in living communities that follows a disturbance. Primary (no soil, much longer) or Secondary
The transfer of nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil, to living organisms, and back to the atmosphere
process of converting nitrogen gas (N2) into nitrogen compounds that plants can absorb and use (Ammonia/Ammonium: NH3/NH4+)
change in a population from high birth and death rates to low birth and death rates across four stages
age structure diagram
graph of the numbers of males and females within different age groups of a population. Helps project population change over time
One Child Policy
A program established by the Chinese government in 1979 to slow population growth.
Having a diet that lacks the correct balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
having insufficient food or other substances for good health and condition
a large increase in crop production in developing countries achieved by the use of fertilizers, machines, pesticides, and high-yield crop varieties.
Process of making changes in the DNA code of living organisms
Aquifer/well withdrawal, ditches and canals, drip, spray, flooding
Pest management using a variety of techniques, agricultural, biological and use of minimal amount of pesticides when necessary to limit pest damage to economically tolerable level
old growth/primary forest
an uncut or regenerated forest that has not been seriously disturbed by human activities or natural disasters for 200 years or more
tree plantation (aka tree farm or commercial forest)
a large area typically planted with a single rapidly growing tree species
Extremely hot fire that leaps from treetop to treetop - occurs in forests with no surface fires for several decades (an excessive amount of deadwood has built up) - this kills most vegetation, wildlife, buildings and contributes to soil erosion
fires that typically burn only the forest's underbrush and do little damage to mature trees. May actually serve to protect the forest from more harmful fires by removing underbrush and dead materials that would burn quickly and at high temperatures.
Destruction of vegetation caused by too many animals consuming the plants in a particular area so they cannot recover
Degradation of land, especially in semiarid areas, primarily because of human actions like excessive crop planting, animal grazing, and tree cutting.
low-population-density developments that are built outside of a city. Think strip malls, parking lots, spread out houses, lots of roads/highways
urban heat island
Is a metropolitan area which is significantly warmer than its surrounding rural areas. Tall buildings block air flow, machines release heat, abundant dark surfaces
National Parks System
established by the United States to preserve historic sites & habitats of many plants & animals
an area designated for the protection of wild animals, within which hunting and fishing are either prohibited or strictly regulated
An area where there are few people living; an area still in its natural state
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA)
this law requires mining companies to restore most surface-mined land by grading and replanting it
TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act)
act that regulates existing chemicals that pose an unreasonable health risk. Its objective is to allow EPA to regulate new commercial chemicals
RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act)
developed a comprehensive program to ensure that hazardous waste is managed safely from the moment it is generated to its final disposal (cradle-to-grave)
an effective fishing method for species that school near the surface; a large net is encircled around the targeted catch, after which the bottom of the net is drawn tight, thus confining the catch in the net.
a commercial fishing technique that uses a long line with baited hooks attached at intervals.
a fishing technique in which the ocean floor is scraped by heavy nets that smash everything in their path to collect bottom dwellers
a technique of growing plants (without soil) in water containing dissolved nutrients
Tragedy of the Commons
situation in which people acting individually and in their own interest use up commonly available (public) but limited resources, creating disaster for the entire community
unit of energy
Wh or kWh (Watt-hour or Kilowatt-hour)
unit of power
number of watts (W) in a kilowatt (kW) or number of kilowatts in a megawatt (MW)
formation of coal
Peat is the raw material from which coal is formed. Over time and under increasing heat and pressure, various types of coal are formed
coal of a hard variety that contains relatively pure carbon and burns with little flame and smoke.
the second-purest form of coal.
the least pure coal, soft, brownish
When sediment becomes clogged behind a dam.
CAFE Standards (Corporate Average Fuel Economy)
these standards set mile per gallon standards for a fleet of cars; increased fuel economy = lower energy usage
Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV)
A car that combines the engine of a conventional vehicle with the battery and electric motor of an electric vehicle, allowing it to achieve higher fuel economy than a conventional car
total amount of living tissue within a given trophic level, can be used as alternative/renewable fuel source
The energy captured by transforming the wave motion of water into electrical energy using a turbine
A brownish haze that is a mixture of ozone and other chemicals, formed when Nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds react with each other in the presence of sunlight
Type of air pollution consisting mostly of a mixture of sulfur dioxide, suspended droplets of sulfuric acid formed from some of the sulfur dioxide, and suspended solid particles, mostly due to burning coal
Any unwanted, disturbing, or harmful sound that impairs or interferes with hearing, causes stress, hampers concentration and work efficiency, or causes accidents.
brightening of the night sky caused by street lights and other man-made sources, which has a disruptive effect on natural cycles and inhibits the observation of stars and planets.
oil spills, excess fertilizer, excess sediment, plastic particles, thermal, dumping of chemicals etc.
primary sewage treatment
Mechanical sewage treatment in which large solids are filtered out by screens and suspended solids settle out as sludge in a sedimentation tank.
secondary sewage treatment
a biological process in which aerobic bacteria remove as much as 90% of dissolved and biodegradable, oxygen-demanding organic wastes
tertiary sewage treatment
Advanced (expensive) Sewage Treatment: series of specialized chemical and physical processes used to remove specific pollutants left in the water such as nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria and viruses. May use UV, ozone, chlorine or send through sand or activated carbon layers.
A relatively small and simple sewage treatment system, made up of a septic tank and a leach field, often used for homes in rural areas
CFCs and Nitrous Oxide (N2O)
Both greenhouse gas and contribute to ozone depletion when they break down in the stratosphere