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electromagnetic waves

waves that transfer electric and magnetic energy through the vacuum of space


the direct transfer of energy by electromagnetic waves

infrared radiation

electromagnetic waves with wavelengths that are longer than visible light but shorter than microwaves

ultraviolet radiation

electromagnetic waves with wavelengths that are shorter than visible light but no longer than x-rays

greenhouse effect

the process by which heat is trapped in the atmosphere by gases that form a "blanket" around Earth


the transfer of thermal energy from one object to another because of a difference in temperature

thermal energy

the total energy of motion in the particles of a substance


a measure of how hot or cold an object is compared to a reference point


the direct transfer of thermal energy from one substance to another that is touching


the transfer of thermal energy by the movement of a fluid

convection currents

the circulation of a fluid as it alternately heats up and cools down


the horizontal movement of air from an area of high pressure to an area of lower pressure


an instrument used to measure wind speed

wind-chill factor

a measure of cooling combining temperature and wind speed

local winds

winds that blow over short distances

sea breeze

the flow of cooler air from over an ocean or lake toward land

land breeze

the flow of air from land to a body of water

global wind

winds that blow steadily from specific directions over long distances

coriolis effect

the change that Earth's rotation causes in that motion of objects and that explains how winds curve

water cycle

the continuel movement of water among earth's atmosphere, oceans, and land surface through evaporation, condensation, and precipitation


the process by which water molecules in liquid water escape that air as water vapor


the amount of water vapor in a given volume of air

relative humidity

the percentage of water vapor in the air compared to the maximum amount of water vapor that the air can contain at a particular temperature


an instrument used to measure relative humidity


the process by which molecules of water vapor in air become liquid water

dew point

temperature at which condensation begins


wispy, feathery clouds made of ice crystals that form at high levels


fluffy, white clouds, usually with flat bottoms, that look like rounded piles of cotton


clouds that form in flat layers and often cover much of the sky


any form of water that falls from clouds and reaches Earth's surface


long periods of low precipitation

rain gauge

an instrument used to measure precipitation


reflection of light in all directions

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