Living in the Environment Unit 1
Terms in this set (92)
The capacity to do work or to transfer heat
Energy associated with motion (i.e. flowing water, electricity, wind)
The total kinetic energy of all moving atoms, ions, or molecules within a given substance.
Energy travels in the form of a wave as a result of change in electrical and magnetic fields.
Stored and potentially available for use
Fuels that were formed over millions of years as layers of the decaying remains of ancient plants and animals (fossils) were exposed to intense heart and pressure within the earth's crust.
A measure of the capacity of a type of energy to do useful work
Has a great capacity to do useful work because it is concentrated (i.e. high-temperature heat, concentrated sunlight, high-speed wind).
So dispersed that it has little capacity to do useful work (i.e. low-temperature heat generated by movement of the ocean).
The study of energy transformations
First Law of Thermodynamics (law of conservation of energy)
Whenever energy is converted from one form to another in a physical or chemical change, no energy is created or destroyed
Second Law of Thermodynamics
Whenever energy is converted from one form to another in a physical or chemical change, we end up with lower-quality or less-usable energy than we started with.
A set of components that function and interact in some regular way (i.e. human body, a river, an economy).
From the environment, part of a system
Flows or throughputs
Matter and energy within the system
To the environment from a system
Occurs when an output of matter, energy, or information is fed back into the system as an input and leads to changes in that system.
Positive feedback loop
Causes a system to change further in the same direction
Negative (corrective) feedback loop
Causes a system to change in the opposite direction from which it is moving (i.e. thermostat, recycling).
A lack of response during a period of time between the input of a feedback stimulus and the system's response to it.
The point at which a fundamental shift in the behavior of a system occurs.
Synergistic interaction (synergy)
Occurs when two or more processes interact so that the combined effect is greater than the sum of their separate effects.
A thing spherical envelope of gases surrounding the earth's surface.
The inner layer of the atmosphere, extends about 17 kilometers (11 miles) above sea level at the tropics and about 7 kilometers (4 miles) above the earth's most north and south poles. It contains the air that we breathe, consisting mostly of nitrogen (78%) and oxygen (21%). The remaining 1% is made up of greenhouse gases.
Gases in the earth's lower atmosphere (troposphere) that cause the greenhouse effect. Examples include carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, ozone, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxide.
Second layer of the atmosphere, extending about 17-48 kilometers (11-30 miles) above earth's surface. It contains small amounts of gaseous ozone, which filters out about 95% of the incoming harmful ultraviolet radiation emitted by the sun.
Earth's liquid water (oceans, lakes, other bodies of surface water, and underground water), frozen water (polar ice caps, floating ice caps, and permafrost), and water vapor in the atmosphere.
Zone of the earth where life is found. It consists of parts of the atmosphere (the troposphere), hydrosphere (mostly surface and groundwater), and lithosphere (mostly soil and surface rocks and sediments on the bottoms of oceans and other bodies of water) where life is found.
Consists of the earth's intensely hot core, a thick mantle composed mostly of rock, and a thin outer crust. Its upper portion contains nonrenewable fossil fuels and minerals that we use, as well as renewable soil chemicals (nutrients) that organisms needs in order to live, grow, and reproduce.
Natural greenhouse effect
The science that focuses on how organisms interact with one another and with their nonliving environment of matter and energy
An individual living being
A group of individuals of the same species living in a particular place
Populations of different species living in a particular place, and potentially interacting with each other
A community of different species interacting with one another and with the nonliving environment of matter and energy
Make the nutrients they need from compounds and energy obtained from their environment
A few producers, mostly specialized bacteria, can convert simple inorganic compounds from their environment into more complex nutrient compounds without using sunlight
Cannot produce the nutrients they need through photosynthesis or other processes
Primary consumers (herbivores)
Animals that eat mostly green plants
Feed on the flesh of herbivores (more carnivores, such as lions, spiders, and most small fishes, are secondary consumers)
Animals that feed on the flesh of other animals
Feed on the flesh of other carnivores (i.e. tigers, hawks, killer whales)
Eat plants and other animals (i.e. humans, pigs, rats)
Consumers that, in the process of obtaining their own nutrients, release nutrients from the wastes or remains of plants and animals and then return those nutrients to the soil, water, and air for reuse by producers. Most decomposers are bacteria and fungi.
Detritus feeders (detritivores)
Feed on the wastes or dead bodies of other organisms; these wastes are called detritus, which means debris. Examples are earthworms, some insects, and vultures.
Uses oxygen to convert glucose (or other organic nutrient molecules) back into carbon dioxide and water
Anaerobic respiration (fermentation)
Some decomposers get the energy they need by breaking down glucose (or other organic compounds) in the absence of oxygen.
A sequence of organisms, each of which serves as a source of food or energy for the next
Organisms in most ecosystems form a complex network of interconnected food chains
The dry weight of all organic matter
Pyramid of energy flow
Diagram representing the flow of energy through each trophic level in a food chain or food web. With each energy transfer, only a small part (typically 10%) of the usable energy entering one trophic level is transferred to the organisms at the next trophic level.
Gross primary productivity (GPP)
The rate at which an ecosystem's producers (usually plants) convert solar energy into chemical energy in the form of biomass found in their tissues
Net primary productivity (NPP)
The rate at which producers use photosynthesis to produce and store chemical energy minus the rate at which they use some of this stored chemical energy through aerobic respiration.
A set of physical conditions of the lower atmosphere such as temperature, precipitation, humidity, wind speed, cloud cover, and other factors in a given area over a period of hours or days.
An area's general pattern of atmospheric conditions over periods of at least three decades and up to thousands of years.
Prevailing winds blowing over the oceans produce mass movements of surface water
Natural greenhouse effect
Natural effect that releases heat into the atmosphere near the earth's surface
Rain shadow effect
Over many decades, the resulting semiarid or arid conditions on the leeward side of a high mountain
Species that occupy narrow niches; prone to extinction when environmental conditions change.
Those species that normally live and thrive in a particular ecosystem
Nonnative species (invasive, alien, exotic)
Species that migrate into, or are deliberately or accidentally introduced into, an ecosystem
Species that provide early warnings of damage to a community or an ecosystem (i.e. most birds, butterflies, some amphibians)
Species whose roles have a large effect on the types and abundance of other species in an ecosystem (i.e. alligator)
Species that play a major role in shaping their communities by creating and enhancing their habitats in ways that benefit other species (i.e. beavers)
Found near the equator, where hot, moisture-laden air rises and dumps its moisture. These lush forests have year-round, uniformly warm temperatures, high humidity, and almost daily heavy rainfall. This fairly consistent warm and wet climate is ideal for a wide variety of plants and animals.
Temperate deciduous forests
Grow in areas with moderate average temperatures that change significantly with the seasons. These areas have long, warm summers, cold but not too severe winters, and abundant precipitation, often spread fairly evenly throughout the year.
Evergreen coniferous forests (boreal or taiga)
These cold forests are found just south of the arctic tundra in northern regions across North America, Asia, and Europe and above certain altitudes in the Sierra Nevada and Rock Mountain ranges of the United States. In this subarctic climate, winters are long, dry, and extremely cold; in the northernmost taigas, winter sunlight is only available 6-8 hours per day. Summers are short, with cool to warm temperatures, and the sun shines up to 19 hours per day.
Coastal coniferous forests or temperate rain forests
Found in scattered coastal temperate areas with ample rainfall or moisture from dense ocean fogs. Dense stands of these forests with large conifers such as Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, and redwoods once dominated undisturbed areas of those biomes along the coast of North America, from Canada to northern California in the United States.
Places where dramatic changes in altitude, slope, climate, soil, and vegetation take place over a very short distance.
Occur msotly in the interiors of continents in areas that are too moist for deserts to form and too dry for forests to grow. Grasslands persist because of a combination of seasonal drought, grazing by large herbivores, and occasional fires--all of which keep shrubs and trees from growing in large numbers.
A type of tropical grassland that contains widely scattered clumps of trees such as acacia, which are covered with thorns that keep some herbivores away. This biome usually has warm temperatures year-round and alternating dry and wet seasons.
Winters can be bitterly cold, summers are hot and dry, and annual precipitation is fairly sparse and falls unevenly throughout the year. Because the aboveground parts of most of the grasses die and decompose each year, organic matter accumulates to produce a deep, fertile topsoil.
Cold grasslands (arctic tundra)
Lie south of the arctic polar ice cap. During most of the year, these treeless plains are bitterly cold, swept by frigid winds, and covered with ice and snow. Winters are long with short days, and scant precipitation falls mostly as snow.
Underground soil in which captured water stays frozen for more than 2 consecutive years
An increase is a nation't output of goods and services
Gross domestic product (GDP)
The annual market value of all goods and services produced by all businesses, foreign and domestic, operating within a country
Per capita GDP
The GDP divided by the total population at midyear
An effort to use economic growth to improve living standards
Countries with high average income and they include the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and most European countries. MDCs account for ~19% of the world's population, use about 88% of all resources and produce about 75% of the world's pollution and waste.
Country that has low to moderate industrialization and low to moderate per capita GDP. Most are located in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 81% of the world's people live in LDCs.
Environmental degradation (natural capital degradation)
The process of humans living unsustainably by wasting, depleting, and degrading the earth's natural capital at an accelerating rate.
Any presence within the environment of a chemical or other agent such as noise or heat at a level that is harmful to the health, survival, or activities of humans or other organisms.
Single, identifiable sources of pollutants
Dispersed and often difficult to identify
The amount of biologically productive land and water needed to provide the people in a particular country or area with an indefinite supply of renewable resources and to absorb and recycle the wastes and pollution produced by such resource use.
Per capita ecological footprint
Average ecological footprint of an individual in a given country or area
I = P x A x T
Impact = Population x Affluence x Technology
Ecological tipping point
An often irreversible shift in the behavior of a natural system
Occurs when a quantity such as the human population increases at a fixed percentage per unit of time, such as 2% per year. Exponential growth starts off slowly, but eventually, it causes the quantity to double again and again. After only a few doublings, it grows to enormous numbers because each doubling is twice the total of all earlier growth.
Occurs when people are unable to fulfill their basic needs for adequate food, water, shelter, health, and education