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All the terms and subject we need to know for our Earth/Environmental Midterms coming up

Qualitative Property

a physical property like color, size, texture and smell. (observable)

Quantitative Property

a mathematical, measurable property. It will be a number

Scientific Law

a fact of nature that is true, always was true, and always will be true that explains natural events

Scientific Theory

a proven and accepted notion that is true based on what is know today


The stuff everything is made up of. It has mass and takes up space

Scientific Method

5 Steps:
1) Ask a question
2) Make a hypothesis
3) Conduct experiment/ collect data
4) Analyze data/ draw conclusions
5) Share results


an organized, mathematical presentation of data that helps you analyze your data


Information collected during experiments


the basic unit of all living things


a force; all objects on Earth are affected by gravitational force, pulling it towards the center of the Earth

Heliocentric Model of the Solar System

a sun based model of the solar system, currently accepted model with planets revolving around the sun

Geocentric Model of the Solar System

Earth centerd model of the Solar System disproven by Copernicus

Inner Planets (characteristics)

Mercury, Mars, Venus, and Earth - Rocky

Outer Planet (characteristics)

Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus - Gaseous


most abundant element in the universe


rotating cloud of dust and gas where stars are born


large celestial body composed of gas, mostly hydrogen and helium, that emits light...stars are fueled by nuclear fusion


a body that revolves around a planet, it will have less mass than the planet itself


our star, provides light and heat to the Earth, allows for photosynthesis and is therefore the basis of almost all food chains on Earth

Maria (Mare)

a large dark area of basalt on the moon


small rocky body traveling through space that may enter Earth's atmosphere and burn up

Moon Crater

bowl shaped depression on the moon's surface, formed when objects from space hit the surface of the moon

Rilles (Moon)

long collapsed channels on the surface of the moon, thought to be leftover lava channels


layer of dust and rock on the surface of the moon

Phases of the Moon

Beginning with New, know the phases in order:
New Moon- looks like there's no moon
Waxing Crescent - little sliver illuminated on the right
First Quarter - half moon illuminated on right
Waxing Gibbous - over half the moon illuminated on right
Full Moon - circle illuminated
Waning Gibbous - over half the moon illuminated left
Third Quarter - half moon illuminated on left
Waning Crescent - little sliver illuminated on left
New Moon
Phases change every 2-3 days


building up phase of the moon, the moon waxes towards full


When the moon goes from full back to new, seemingly dissapearing

Causes of Tides on Earth

the pull of gravity from the moon and sun cause tides on Earth


when the moon is closest to the Earth, due to its elliptical orbit


when the moon is farthest from the Earth due to its elliptical orbit


the path an object follows around another object, such as a planet around the sun - orbits are elliptical as defined by Kepler


the shape of orbits, which is a slightly flattened circle


Latin for crown, the suns corona is only visible during a solar ellipse

Lunar Eclipse

the passing of the moon through the Earth's shadow

Solar Eclipse

the passing of the moon between the Earth and the sun, the shadow of the moon falls on the Earth

Hertzsprung-Russel Diagram

a graph that shows the brightness and temperature of a star

Types of Stars

Blue Stars are hottest, White, Yellow (Our sun is a medium yellow star), Orange, Red (color is because the star is mostly helium and is near the end of its life cycle)


a pattern formed by a group of stars. Orion is an example

Super Nova

the explosion and radiation emitted when a massive star dies

Four States of Matter

Plasma, Gas, Liquid, and Solid (Plasma is most common in the universe...water can exist as a solid, liquid, or gas in the Water Cycle)

Reason for the Seasons

Earth's tilt on its axis, toward or away from the sun, is why we have seasons - in winter we are turned away from the sun, In summer we are turned towards the sun

Earth's Tilt

Earth is tilted 23.5° on its axis

Earth's Orbit

It takes 365.25 days for Earth to orbit the Sun

Leap Year

Because it takes 365.25 days for the Earth to orbit the sun, every four years we add a day to the calendar, giving February 29 days


Earth's (or any planets) path around the sun


Earth rotates on its axis

Coriolis Effect

the curving path of a moving object due to Earth's Rotation - example: A hurricane is a spiral because of this


the point at which a planet is farthest from the sun


the point at which a planet is closest to the sun

Number of Standard Time Zones



the first day of Fall/Autumn or Spring


First day of winter or summer


molecule made up of 3 oxygen (O) atoms, absorbs harmful UV light from the sun, the ozone has been damaged by chemicals known as CFCs

Atmospheric Pressure

the weight of the Earth's atmosphere puching down on Earth

Oxygen Cycle

animals breathe in O and out CO₂. Plants breathe in the CO₂and out the O. We therefore depend on one another

Nitrogen Cycle

78% of our atmosphere is N. It is not in a usable form. Plants need N to carry on their life functins. The Nitrogen cycle changes nitrogen to a usable form

Sea Level

1 atmosphere (atm) is the measurement of this

Causes of Weather

colliding fronts in the atmosphere cause weather. These fronts can be cold/warm, high/low pressure or:
Stationary - nonmoving
Polar - from poles
Occluded - a cold front takes over a warm front

La Niña

a weather pattern caused by cooler than normal Pacific Ocean

El Niño

a weather pattern caused by warmer than normal Pacific Ocean


chlorofluorocarbons - major cause of hole in Ozone Layer


measures air pressure

Decomposition (of organisms)

when organisms die they breakdown and the components are returned to the food chain


when plants give off water as part of the water cycle

Trade Winds

blow East to West at 30° latitude in both hemispheres


a narrow band of strong winds in the troposphere, a major factor in weather

Convection Cells

motion of air or liquids in a circular pattern due to changes in temperature. They can cause thunderstorms and tornadoes

Tilt of Earth's Axis


Torrential Rain

very heavy, very fast falling rain


fast moving, vortex shaped weather event caused by colliding fronts (warm and cold), measured using the Fujita Scale


slow forming, massive spiral storm that forms over the Atlantic Ocean, has winds of at aleast 119 kph

Tropical Storm

similar to a hurricane, less organized, winds less than 119 kph

Tornado Alley

area of central US where warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico meets cold, dry air from Canada. This Area experiences a higher than normal number of tornadoes


liquids or gases moving in a spiral around a center axis

Cold Front

cold air (remember cold air is dense and therefore sinks, it will wedge under warm air, potentially causing stormy weather), most of our cold fronts come down from Canada

Warm Front

warm air - (warm air rises above cold air, the two will mix until equilibrium is reached, the mixing can also cause severe weather)

High Pressure Weather Systems

generally associated with fair weather

Low Pressure Weather Systems

generally associated with rainy weather

Physical Properties of Matter/Physical changes

color, density, freezing to boiling points, state changes (solid to liquid for example), solubility (ability to dissolve)

Chemical Properties of Matter/Chemical changes

change in odor, endothermic and exothermic, light or sound given off...burning something and baking a cake are examples of this

Endothermic Reaction

energy is taken in (absorbed), so reaction feels cool

Exothermic Reaction

energy is released, so reaction feels warm


pure substances, can't be broken down any further, there are 112 of them


subatomic particle with a positive (+) charge


subatomic particle with a negative (-) charge


subatomic particle that is neutral and has no charge

Valence Electrons

electrons in the outermost electron shell, these determine reactivity

Bohr Model

Atomic model. (this isn't a great picture, but it was the best that I could find) Protons and Neutrons are inthe center in the nucleus. The nucleus is surrounded by electron shells. The outer shell contains the valence electrons. The number of electrons in total is the atomic number. It is the same number of protons in the nucleus.

Synthetic Elements

elements that are man-made: all elements over #92 are synthetic in addition to #43 Tc (technetium) and #61 Pm (promethium)

Naturally Occuring Elements

all numbers on the Periodic Table 1-92 except for #43 Tc (technetium) and #61 Pm (promethium)


shiny, conductive (good transporter of electricity), malleable (can be spread into sheets), have luster (reflective)


found on periodic table to the right of the metalloid staircase


make up staircase on th Periodic Table, has properies of both metals and nometals


natural, inorganic (nothing in it lives or used to live) solid with an orderly (crystal) structure


can be a collection of minerals, or contain organics (things that live or used to live)

Igneous Rock

formed by volcanic processes, Obsidian is an example

Sedimentary Rock

put down in horizontal layers, usually a product of eroded rocks that have been cemented together in the rock cycle

Metamorphic Rock

formed from heat and pressure in the rock cycle

Rock Cycle

process by which rocks change into another type of rock


when magma reaches the surface


melted rock under ground


the mineral form of salt

Chemical Weathering

water mixes with acids causing the erosion of rocks

Physical Weathering

wind, ice cleaving, and water can cause this


effects of wind, water ice on rocks, or soil


volcanic rock that looks like black glass (igneous)

Slate Belt

Union County is part of the slate belt, a major geologic feature in NC

Tectonic Plates

Earth's crust (the part we walk on) is divided/broken into plates. The motion of these plates can cause earthquakes.

Renewable energy

energy sources that are replaceable over time, such as trees. Solar and wind energy is also renewable

Geothermal Energy

energy that comes from the Earth, such as from volcanic activity

Solar Energy

energy from the sun


from living things, rocks may have organic components

Foliated rocks

sedimentary rocks that have striped patterns

Non-Foliated Rocks

sedimentary rocks without striped patterns


a type of sedimentary rock that contains large peices of other rocks cemented together


process by which some sedimentary rocks are "glued" together


a non-renewable resource that formed from ancient plants


remains of past organisms

Hydroelectric Energy

energy from moving water

Streak (In relation to identifying rocks)

the color of this is a way to identify a rock, it may vary highly from the rock color (you need a special type of plate for it)


a natural material that can be mined for profit

Properties of Metals

luster, malleability, conductivity, ductile

Acid Precipitation

rain or snow that combines with SO₂ (sulfur dioxide)

Sir Isaac Newton

first to define gravity, laws of motion - he gave us a deeper understanding of how forces work in the universe


made a geocentric model of the solar system in which orbits were perfect spheres


calculated the distance to the moon (born 140 AD), the value we still accept


first to propose a heliocentric model of the solar system


used experimentation to prove the heliocentric model of the solar system, tried and found guilty of heresy by the Catholic Church for publishing scientific materials that were against church doctrine. Considered to be the father of modern science.


mathematically defined orbits as elliptical

Force (measurement)

N (Newtons)

Mass (measurement)

G (Grams)

Length/Distance (measurement)

m (meters)

Time (measurement)

s (seconds)

Density (measurement)


Barometric Pressure (measurement)

atmospheres or millibars

Sea Level (measurement)

1 atm (atmosphere)

Equation for Protons

the same as the atomic number and the number of electrons

Equation for electrons

the same as the atomic number and the number of protons

Atomic Mass - Atomic Number

equation for neutrons

4.6 Billion Years

Age scientists believe the Earth is

Earth's shape

Oblate Spheriod


slow forming, massive spiral storm that forms over the Pacific Ocean, has winds of at aleast 119 kph


slow forming, massive spiral storm that forms over the Indian Ocean, has winds of at aleast 119 kph

First Quarter

Comes after Waxing Crescent and before Waxing Gibbous


Color of the hottest stars


Color of the coolest stars


What hydroelectric plants use


What geologists study


type of layers sedimantary rocks are put down in

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Flickr Creative Commons Images

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