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Weather & Climate Systems Vocabulary
Vocabulary for Smithsonian STC-MS Weather & Climate Systems Unit
Terms in this set (102)
A body of air with the same temperature and moisture throughout.
The weight of air.
An instrument used to measure the speed of wind.
The thick blanket of gases that surrounds Earth.
An instrument used to detect and measure changes in air pressure.
Barometric Pressure (Atmospheric Pressure)
The pressure exerted by the atmosphere.
A type of fuel from living material such as plants.
An area that contains specific plants and animals based on its climate.
The portion of Earth occupied by living things.
A potent greenhouse gas that can be produced by burning fossil fuels.
Chemical compounds that are considered harmful to the ozone layer.
Weather conditions that are characteristic of a region or of a particular place over a long period of time.
A predictive representation of a climate, with the climate's phenomena reduced to mathematical expressions.
A scientist who studies climate.
The study of climate.
A collection of billions of tiny droplets of water or ice and dust particles visible from the ground.
The leading edge of a cold air mass; it occurs when a cold air mass pushes a warm air mass ahead of it.
The process by which water vapor changes from a gas to a liquid.
The process in which heat is transferred directly from one material to another material.
The process in which heat is transferred through the moevement of a gas or liquid.
A circulating flow of air or water resulting from temperature differences; also called a convection cell.
A force that comes from the rotation of Earth and affects the path of objects in motion.
The movement of a gas or liquid in a definite direction.
A massive, rotating storm that forms in the Indian Ocean and off the coast of Australia. It is equivalent to a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, Eastern Pacific Ocean, or Caribbean Sea.
The process by which water vapor changes from a gas to a solid.
Dew Point (Point of Saturation)
The atmospheric temperature at which water droplets condense, forming dew.
A portion of the southeastern United States that is especially prone to violent tornadoes.
A weather tool that uses the Doppler effect to determine the position and velocity of weather phenomena such as clouds or storms.
Global winds that flow from the east to the west.
An unusually warm flow of surface water that occurs in the equatorial Pacific Ocean about every two to seven years.
Enhanced Fujita Scale
A scale for measuring the strength of tornados.
Equinox (Spring [vernal]/fall [autumnal])
The time of year in which day and night are equal lengths.
The process by which water changes from a liquid to an invisible gas called water vapor.
The outer region of the atmosphere.
The solid portion of Earth.
Energy produced using the heat of Earth.
Global Ocean Conveyor Belt (Thermohaline Circulation)
A slow-moving, density-driven circulation of ocean water that runs nearly pole to pole and throughout the world's oceans. The current runs in a loop, both along the ocean surface and thousands of meters below it.
Winds that form between the poles and the equator.
The force that attracts objects toward Earth.
The trapping of the Sun's energy by gases in Earth's atmosphere that cause Earth to be warm.
Gases in Earth's atmosphere that absorb heat energy radiated from Earth and release some of it earthward, preventing heat from escaping into space. Examples of greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, and methane.
A warm-water ocean current that flows north along the east coast of the United States.
A measure of the amount of energy in a system.
The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere.
A massive rotating storm with wind speeds of 119 kilometers per hour or more that forms north of the equator in the Atlantic Ocean, eastern Pacific Ocean, or Caribbean Sea when warm air rises over tropical waters.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell
An alternative to fossil fuels that uses hydrogen gas as the fuel source.
The portion of Earth that is water.
International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC)
A group whose research focuses on climate change science.
A band of very strong air currents that encircles Earth.
The energy associated with the motion of objects or molecules.
Köppen Climate Classification System
The original and still one of the most widely used climate classification systems.
An unusually cool flow of surface water that occurs in the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The flow of air from land to water, caused by differential heating of sea and land and the different rates at which they release heat to the atmosphere.
The distance north or south of the equator measured in degrees.
A bright flash that is produced due to electrical discharge and occurs during a thunderstorm.
The distance east or west of the meridian in Greenwich, England, measured in degrees.
The part of the atmosphere between the troposphere and the thermosphere in which the temperature decreases with altitude.
A scientist who studies Earth's atmosphere and who monitors, studies, and forecasts weather.
A greenhouse gas produced by burning coal and natural gas; also produced by ruminants and landfills.
A seasonal prevailing wind in the region of South and Southeast Asia.
A greenhouse gas.
North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW)
A cold, extremely saline deep water current in the Atlantic Ocean.
An energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuels. It derives its energy from the process of fission, splitting atoms.
The movement of ocean water in a specific direction.
An older name for marine scientists, which comes from the fact that early oceanographers were primarily concerned with mapping the oceans.
Water that falls to the ground from the atmosphere. This includes rain, hail, sleet and snow.
The process when heat is transferred through electromagnetic radiation such as light.
A small group of instruments that is transported into the atmosphere, typically by a weather balloon, that collects data.
Rain Shadow Effect
An effect in which the leeward side of a mountain (the side away from the wind) is dry, while the windward side is often very wet.
A scale used to measure hurricane strength.
Saltiness; the amount of salt dissolved in water.
A tool placed into orbit around Earth to collect data or for communication.
The flow of air from water to land, caused by differential heating of sea and land and the different rates at which they release heat to the atmosphere.
Energy that is derived from the Sun.
An energy source that is an alternate to fossil fuels; it derives its energy from sunlight.
An unusually high water level, caused primarily by strong winds, especially those associated with a hurricane.
The layer of Earth's atmosphere above the troposphere. It has very little water vapor or other gases, and the protective ozone layer is located there.
A current found on the surface of the ocean that is driven by wind.
A measure of how hot or cold a material is; an indication of the amount of heat energy that has been absorbed by the material.
The highest level of the atmosphere.
A loud sound produced by rapidly expanding heated air that typically follows lightning and occurs during a thunderstorm.
A storm that produces lightning and thunder. It typically also has a large amount of precipitation.
A mobile, destructive funnel-shaped vortex that is associated qith large storm systems.
A portion of the central United States that is especially prone to violent tornadoes.
A communication to the public that a tornado has been seen or detected by radar.
A communication to the public that tornadoes are possible. In other words, thunderstorms with high winds and rain that may produce tornadoes are in the area.
Global winds that flow toward the equator, turning west as they go.
The release of water from plant leaves into the atmosphere.
An organized, low-pressure system of storms over warm ocean waters. It has wind speeds between 63-117 kph, and may rotate.
The layer of the atmosphere closest to Earth, in which air moves in all directions. It was where most of Earth's weather takes place.
A massive rotating storm that forms north of the equator in the western Pacific Ocean. It is equivalent to a hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, eastern Pacific Ocean, or Caribbean Sea.
The rising of cold, deep water from an ocean bottom.
An area that is completely empty of all matter.
Vortex (pl. vortices)
The movement of liquids or gases in a spiral around a central axis. In a storm, it is the calm center area around which clouds spiral.
A boundary that occurs when a moving, warm air mass overrides a cold air mass ahead of it.
The movement and exchange of water between Earth's land, atmosphere, and oceans.
The gaseous form of water.
A boundary that forms when air masses meet that have different temperature, pressure, and humidity conditions.
The state of the atmosphere at a particular time and place.
Global winds of the atmosphere from the west to the east.
The natural movement of air.
An energy source that is an alternative to fossil fuels. It derives its energy from the wind.
THIS SET IS OFTEN IN FOLDERS WITH...
Lesson 2: Warming Earth's Surface (Weather & Clima…
Lesson 3: The Water Cycle, Cloud Formations & Air…
Lesson 4: Wind & Air Pressure (Weather & Climate S…
Lesson 5: Ocean Currents (Weather & Climate System…
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