Evnironmental Systems

Adaptation
1. a genetically determined characteristic that enhances the ability of an individual to cope with the conditions of its environment. 2. The evolutionary process by which organisms become better suited to their environments.
Biosphere
all of the ecosystems of the Earth.
Community
an association of interacting populations usually defined by the nature of their interaction or the place in which they live.
Aerobic
with oxygen.
Anaerobic
without oxygen.
Autotroph
an organism that assimilates energy either from sunlight of from inorganic compounds.
Bicarbonate Ions (HCOɜ -)
an anion formed by the dissociation of carbonic acid.
Carbonic Acid (found in coca-cola)
found when atmospheric carbon dioxide dissolves in water. (also, has a pH of 3)
Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
1. product of oxidation carbohydrates in cellular respiration. 2. often combined with Bicarbonate under water to create an equilibrium.
Conduction
the transfer of heat between substances in contact with one another.
Convection
transfer of heat by the movement of fluid such as air or water.
Adiabatic Cooling
the decrease in temperature with increasing elevation caused by the expansion of air under decreasing atmospheric pressure.
Coriolis Effect
the effect of the earth’s rotation on the circulation patterns of the atmosphere and oceans, which causes winds and currents to veer to the right of their direction of travel in the Northern Hemisphere and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere.
Zenith
the highest position of the sun in the day.
Weathering
physical and chemical alteration of rock material near the earth’s surface.
Water Molecule (H2O)
1. the most abundant polar molecule on the earth’s surface. it is an ideal life medium and can stay liquid in intense temperatures. much of this is also found in space.
Visible Radiation
electromagnetic radiation that can produce a visual sensation. (also considered the Photosynthetically active region) PAR.
Ultraviolet Radiation
electromagnetic radiation having a wavelength shorter than about 400 nm.
Transpiration
evaporation of water from leaf cells and other parts of plants.
Thermocline
the depth in a body of water in which the temperature changes abruptly between an upper layer of warm water (epilimnion) and a lower layer of cold water (hypolimnion).
Thermohaline Circulation
a global pattern of surface and deep-water currents driven by differences in the density of water caused by variations in temperature and salinity.
Symbiosis
a close physical association between two species, usually coevolved. they can be parasitic or mutualistic
Subtropical High Pressure Belts
regions of high atmospheric pressure and dry air centered approximately 30 degrees north and south of the equator, where the air of the Hadley cell sinks.
Stratification
the establishment in a body of water of distinct layers with different temperatures or salinities due to differences in their densities.
Spring Overturn
the vertical mixing of water layers in a temperature lake in spring as surface ice melts and the surface water warms and sinks.
Spring Overturn
the vertical mixing of water layers in a temperature lake in spring as surface ice melts and the surface water warms and sinks.
Fall Overturn
the vertical mixing of water layer in a temperature lake in fall following the breakdown of thermal stratification as the surface water cools and sinks.
Southern Oscillation
a reversal of the typical gradient of atmospheric pressures over the central equatorial Pacific Ocean that triggers an El Nino event.
Solar Equator
the parallel of latitude that lies directly under the sun’s zenith in a given season.
Riparian Forest
woodlands along the banks of stream or river.
Population
the individuals of a particular species that inhabit a particular area.
Photosynthesis
synthesis of compounds with the aid of radiant energy (especially in plants).
Photosynthetically Active Region (PAR)
the wavelengths of light that are suitable for photosynthesis, ranging between about 400 nm (violet) and 700 nm (red), corresponding to the visible portion of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Photopigments
unstable pigments that undergo a chemical change when they absorb light.
Ozone
a colorless, odorless reactive gas comprised of three oxygen atoms.
Organism
a living being; the most fundamental unit of ecology.
Osmotic Potential
the force with which an aqueous solution attracts water by osmosis; usually expressed as a pressure.
Osmosis
the tendency of water to move from regions of low solute concentration to regions of high solute concentration
Ocean Upwelling
he water rising from the deep depths of the ocean floor because of specific wind patterns. This is something beneficial to phytoplankton because the deep cold water has nutrients and dissolved gases that, with sunlight, allow the plankton to photosynthesize.
Niche
the range of conditions a species can tolerate and the ways of life it pursues; the functional role of a species in the community, often conceived as a multidimensional space.
Natural Selection
change in the frequency of genetic traits in a population through differential survival and reproduction of individuals bearing those traits.
Mutualism
an interaction between two species that benefits both.
Molecular Oxygen
A colorless, odorless and tasteless gas that makes up about 20% of the air we breathe (O2) .
Irradiance
the intensity of the light of all wavelengths impinging on a surface, quantified in watts per square meter.
Ions
an electrically charged atom or group of atoms.
Intertropical Convergence
the region at the solar equator where surface currents of air meet and being to rise under the warming influence of the sun.
Inorganic Nutrients
nutrients that don’t contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.
Hypo Osmotic
having an osmotic potential (generally salt concentration) less than that of the surrounding medium.
Hyper Osmotic
having an osmotic potential greater than that of the surrounding medium.
Heterotroph
an organism that uses other organisms or their remains as a source of energy and nutrients.
Hadley Cell
the circulation pattern of rising and falling air within the tropics.
Habitat
the place or physical setting where an organism normally lives, often characterized by a dominant plant growth or physical characteristic (that is, a stream habitat, a forest habitat…)
Evolution
change in population’s gene pool.
Evaporation
the transformation of water from the liquid to the gaseous state with the input of heat energy.
Equilibrium Water Vapor Pressure
the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere at which the tendency of liquid water to evaporate and the tendency of water vapor to condense back to a liquid state are balanced.
Ecosystem
an assemblage of organisms together with their physical and chemical environments.