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Vocab ( I stole this from the Molnar site)

Environmental Quality


The process of absorbing or of being absorbed -- to incorporate or take up-- to take in.

Acute, Chronic

Acute is a short, one time exposure while chronic is a continuous, low-level exposure.


Any of various chiefly aquatic, eukaryotic, photosynthetic organisms, ranging in size from single-celled forms to the giant kelp. Algae were once considered to be plants but are now classified separately because they lack true roots, stems, leaves, and embryos.


A pungent colorless gaseous alkaline compound of nitrogen and hydrogen NH3 that is very soluble in water and can easily be condensed to a liquid by cold and pressure.


Any of a group (as kingdom Prokaryotae syn. Monera) of prokaryotic unicellular round, spiral, or rod-shaped single-celled microorganisms that are often aggregated into colonies or motile by means of flagella, that live in soil, water, organic matter, or the bodies of plants and animals, and that are autotrophic, saprophytic, or parasitic in nutrition and important because of their biochemical effects and pathogenicity.

Bhopal, India

A noxious gas (methylisocyanate) blanketed the city when water had gotten into a tank containing 40 tons of MIC setting off a chemical reaction. 1754 died with over 200,000 injured.


The presence of a chemical substance in higher concentrations in an organism than in the direct environment or in its food.


A substance that causes cancer.


A halogen element that is isolated as a heavy greenish yellow gas of pungent odor and is used especially as a bleach, oxidizing agent, and disinfectant in water purification.

Coliform Bacteria

Bacteria that live in the intestines (including the colon) of humans and other animals, used as a measure of the presence of feces in water or soil.


The amount of a component in a given area or volume.


Something that contaminates.

DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane)

A colorless odorless water-insoluble crystalline insecticide C14H9Cl5 that tends to accumulate in ecosystems and has toxic effects on many vertebrates; became the most widely used pesticide from WWII to the 1950's; implicated in illnesses and environmental problem; now banned in US.


To free from infection especially by destroying harmful microorganisms.


The process of purifying a liquid by successive evaporation and condensation.

Dose Threshold Level

Maximum level of a substance before toxic levels are reached.


Bodily waste discharged through the anus.

Hazardous Chemicals

acids, caustics, irritants, etc.Many are hazardous in high concentrations but harmless when diluted.

Heavy Metals

Mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel-highly toxic in very small quantities; can be fatal and bioaccumulate in environment-have cumulative effects in humans.


The iron-containing respiratory pigment in red blood cells of vertebrates, consisting of about 6 percent heme and 94 percent globin.


Agents, such as chemicals or radiation, that damage or alter genetic material (DNA) in cells.


A change, either spontaneous or by external factors, in the genetic material of a cell, mutations in the gametes (sex cells) can be inherited by future generations of organisms.


a) a salt or ester of nitric acid (b) sodium nitrate or potassium nitrate used as a fertilizer.

Non-point sources

Scattered, diffuse sources of pollutants, such as runoff from fields golf courses, etc.


The act or process of oxidizing- to change (a compound) by increasing the proportion of the electronegative part or change (an element or ion) from a lower to a higher positive valence


An organism that produces disease in a host organism, disease being an alteration of one or more metabolic functions in response to the presence of the organism.


To cause disease.

Pathogenic organisms

Produce disease in host organisms.


A chemical that kills, controls, drives away, or modifies the behavior of pests.


A salt or ester of a phosphoric acid (2) the trivalent anion PO43- derived from phosphoric acid H3PO4 b: an organic compound of phosphoric acid in which the acid group is bound to nitrogen or a carboxyl group in a way that permits useful energy to be released (as in metabolism)-- 3: a phosphatic material used for fertilizers.

Point sources

Specific locations of highly concentrated pollution discharge, such as factories, oils wells, etc.


Relation of one thing to another; Expressed as the ratio of the specified quantity to the total magnitude (as the value of a measured quantity) or to the mean of all the quantities involved.


What is left over or remains; the part of a molecule that remains after portion of its constituents are removed. Residues of some contaminants may remain after


The ability of an individual or community to resist being changed by potentially disruptive events.

Routinely monitored

Regular, periodic testing


Susceptible of being dissolved in a liquid, particularly water.


A group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent elements forming a complex whole.


Chemicals or other factors that specifically cause abnormalities during embryonic growth and development.

Thermal Pollution

Industrial discharge of heated water into a river, lake, or other body of water, causing a rise in temperature that endangers aquatic life.


Poisonous, a substance that reacts with specific cellular components to kill cells.


To utilize less than fully or below the potential use.

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The grayish-white to black powdery residue left when something is burned.


Able to be decomposed by microorganisms.

CERCLA (Superfund) Act of 1980

Sets up a fund to clean up abandoned hazardous waste sites. Establishes strict liability which means that any individual or corporation associated with the site can be held liable for the entire cost of the cleanup, regardless of their contribution to the pollution at the site. Sets guidelines on how to clean up sites.


A fine-grained, firm earthy material that is plastic when wet and hardens when heated, consisting primarily of hydrated silicates of aluminum and widely used in making bricks, tiles, and pottery; used for liners in landfills because it is impervious.


Gradually destructive; steadily harmful.


Incapable of being penetrated.


An apparatus, such as a furnace, for burning waste.


Stopping and starting at intervals.


Land disposal sites for solid waste; operators compact refuse and cover it with a layer of dirt to minimize rodent and insect infestations, wind-blown debris, and leaching by rain.


A product or solution formed by leaching, such as a solution containing contaminants picked up through the leaching of soil.

Love Canal

An area in Niagara Falls, NY where seepage from buried toxic wastes contaminated local soil and water. In 1968, President Carter relocated almost all the residents of Love Canal. This incident provided impetus for the 1980 Superfund legislation.

Municipal Sewage

The wastewater from households, offices, and other buildings in a city. Municipal and regional sewage systems can either be sanitary sewage only, or sanitary sewage and storm water. Municipal sewage is collected at treatment plants where solids are removed (primary sewage treatment) and then is treated by various other methods including using aerobic bacteria to remove organic wastes (secondary treatment), and advanced or tertiatry treatment with various chemical and physical processes.


Causes genetic mutations.

National Priority List (NPL)

Set up by EPA as part of the Superfund program. Locates and sets priorities for cleaning up hazardous waste sites.

Organic Matter

Compounds that contain carbon and hydrogen covalently bonded together in molecules; molecules from living matter. Organic wastes in sewage and runoff from lawns and farms in fresh waters can cause oxygen-depletion and degration of water quality.

Primary Sewage Treatment

A process that removes solids from sewage before it is discharged or treated further.


The state, quality, sense, or fact of being near or next; closeness.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

Regulates the handling of wastes from cradle to grave. Establishes rules for the handling of such waste from the time it is generated, while it is packaged, stored, while it is transported, and how it is disposed, and the disposal sites themselves.

Secure Landfills

A landfill designed to prevent against leaking or exposure.


A semi-solid mixture of organic and inorganic materials that settles out of wastewater at a sewage treatment plant.

Tipping fee

A fee for disposal of waste.

Waste Lagoons

A blocked-off area used for the dumping of waste products.

Waste Stream

The steady flow of varied wastes, from domestic garbage and yard wastes to industrial, commercial, and construction refuse.

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Contour Plowing

Plowing along hill contours-reduces erosion.


Loss of vegetation and land degradation in dry and semi-arid areas resulting from land mismanagement or climate changes.

Drip Irrigation

Uses pipe or tubing perforated with very small holes to deliver water one drop at a time directly to the soil around each plant. This conserves water and reduces soil water logging and salinization.


To wear away by the action of water, wind, or glacial ice. Removal of vegetation and trees can increase erosion of topsoil.


The process of union of two gametes whereby the somatic chromosome number is restored and the development of a new individual is initiated; addition of materials to soil to increase the available nutrient content.


To become choked or obstructed with silt or mud.

Strip Farming

Planting different kinds of crops in alternating strips along land contours-when one crop is harvested one remains to protect the soil and reduce erosion.


The uppermost 3 to 10 inches of soil, layer in which organic material is mixed with mineral particles; critical for agriculture.

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A pipe or channel designed to transport water from a remote source, usually by gravity. A bridge like structure supporting a conduit or canal passing over a river or low ground.


Porous, water-bearing layers of sand gravel, and rock.

Artesian wells

When water gushes out of an aquifer without being pumped; caused by pressure from the earth's crust.

Aswan High Dam

Dam across the Nile River in Egypt, which impounds one of the largest reservoirs in the world.-- the artificial lake created by the dam Called Lake Nasser inundated many villages along the Nile.-- Hydroelectric installations were added in 1960 to the Aswan Dam.


A large, bowl shaped depression in the surface of the land or ocean floor.

Black Water

Water containing human excrement which cannot be reused without purification.

Brackish Water

Fresh and salt water combined.

Cap Rock

Last layer of material on top of a geological formation such as the Canadian Shield.

Capillary water

Water that clings in small pores, cracks, and spaces against the pull of gravity, like water held in a sponge.


To straighten by means of a channel.


Condensation is the change of state from a gas to a liquid. Water vapor in the air changes to liquid as it cools.


Of or pertaining to consumption; having the quality of consuming or dissipating. Consumptive uses of water include pumping water for irrigation or municipal uses, and evapo-transpiration.

Cultural Eutrophication

An increase in biological productivity and ecosystem succession caused by human activities.


Removing the salt from water

Discharge rate

The amount of water that passes a fixed point in a given amount of time, usually expressed as liters or cubic feet of water per second.

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) content

The amount of oxygen dissolved In a given volume of water at a given temp and atmospheric pressure, usually expressed in parts per million.


A process of desalinization in which water is evaporated and then recondensed.


A long period without precipitation

Drought cycle

Cycles of wet and dry years


Process by which liquid is changed into vapor at temperatures below boiling point


The sum of water evaporation and plant transpiration. Actual evapo-transpiration can not be any greater than precipitation, and will usually be less because some water will run off in rivers and flow to the oceans.

Flood control devices

Measures to protect areas that are easily flooded by either reducing flood flows or confining the flow; devises include dams, levees, or modifying the channel of the river or stream.  Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973. This law signaled a shift in federal policy from reducing the floods through structural controls to reducing the damages by limiting the development in flood prone areas, by making federally-subsidized flood insurance available to property owners in flood-prone areas only in those communities which adopted floodplain zoning.

Gray Water

Wastewater, as from sinks and tubs, that does not contain human excrements. Such water can be reused without purification for some purposes.


Water in the ground.

Hard Water

Water with high mineral content.


The act or process of infiltrating, as of water into a porous substance, or of a fluid into the cells of an organ or part of the body.


An area of irregular limestone in which erosion has produced fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns.

Lake Effect snow

Lake-generated snow squalls form when cold air passing for long distances over the relatively warm waters of a large lake picks up moisture and heat and then drops the moisture in the form of snow upon reaching the downwind shore.


A turn or winding of a stream.

Mono Lake

Oasis in the dry Great Basin in California and a vital habitat for millions of migration and nesting birds.


A source of nourishment, especially a nourishing ingredient in a food.


One that balances, counteracts, or compensates

Ogallala Aquifer

Largest aquifer in North America.


To take too much out, deplete resources, such as pumping water from an aquifer at a faster rate than it can be replenished, or recharged, by rainfall.


Water slowly moves through soil and gravel into an aquifer.


Permanently frozen layer of soil that underlies the arctic tundra.

Pore spaces

The amount of space available for ground water due to the topography of the area.


The ratio of the volume of all the pores in a material to the volume of the whole.

Potable Water

Drinkable by humans.

Recharge Zones

Area where water filters into aquifers


A natural or artificial pond or lake used for the storage and regulation of water.

Residence Time

Length of time a component spends in a particular location before it moves on through a particular process or cycle.

Reverse Osmosis

A process of desalinization where water is forced under pressure through a semipermeable membrane whose tiny pores allow water to pass but exclude most salts and minerals.


excess water that can't be absorbed by the ground

Sink Hole

A hole or low place in land or rock, where waters sink and are lost, causing surface areas to sink in or collapse.


A passage for surplus water to run over or around an obstruction (such as a dam).

Storm water

Water that results from a storm; can cause flooding and contamination of sewers.


water moves from solid to gas without being a liquid


The layer or bed of earth beneath the topsoil.

Tennessee Valley Authority

(TVA), federal corporation, created by the Congress of the United States in 1933 to operate Wilson Dam and to develop the Tennessee River and its tributaries in the interest of navigation, flood control, and the production and distribution of electricity -- enactments include reforestation, industrial and community development, test-demonstration farming, the development of fertilizer, and the establishment of recreational facilities -- includes a number of dams for electricity and flood control.

Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam near Yichang on the Yangtze River in China is expected to help control the flooding of the Yangtze River valley; in addition, river flows will make the Three Gorges complex the largest electricity-generating facility in the world.-- A lake about 650 km (about 400 mi) long will form behind the dam, forcing the relocation of more than 1 million people and permanently flooding many historical sites.


A detailed map of the contours of surfaces of land.


The process by which water is absorbed by the root system of plants, moves through the plant, and then evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapor.


Small stream emptying into bigger river

Water table

The surface between the zone of saturation and the zone of aeration. Water seeping down from rain-soaked surfaces will sink until it reaches an impermeable or water-tight layer of rock. The water will collect above this layer, filling all the pores and cracks of the permeable portions. The top of this area of water is called the water table.


The area of land that catches rain and snow and drains or seeps into a marsh, stream, river, lake or groundwater. Watersheds are often contained in the area of land between two ridges of high land, which divide two areas that are drained by different river systems.


Landscaping with drought resistant plants that need no watering.

Zone of Aeration

Zone immediately below the ground surface within which pore spaces are partially filled with water and partially filled with air.

Zone of Saturation

Lower levels of soil where all spaces are filled with water.

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Scientific Analysis, Observing the Natural World


A tentative explanation that accounts for a set of facts and can be tested for further investigation.


Of or concerning a trait or characteristic, property.


Relating to or expressed as a specified or indefinite number or amount.

Earth's Systems

Carbon Cycle

The combined processes, including photosynthesis, decomposition, and respiration, by which carbon as a component of various compounds cycles between its major reservoirs: the atmosphere, oceans, and living organisms.

Chemical Energy

that part of the energy in a substance that can be released by a chemical reaction


Any of a group of green pigments essential in photosynthesis.


The quantity of something per unit measure, especially per unit length, area, or volume. The mass per unit volume of a substance under specified conditions of pressure and temperature.


Any of a group of chemical reactions induced by living or nonliving ferments that split complex organic compounds into relatively simple substances, especially the anaerobic conversion of sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol by yeast.

Formula for Photosynthesis

CO2 (from the air) + H2O + sun's energy (light) * C6H12O6(glucose) + O2

High Quality Energy

Energy that can be used or converted into something else.

Kinetic Energy

The energy possessed by a body because of its motion, equal to one half the mass of the body times the square of its speed.

Low Quality Energy

Energy that is lost or cannot be used again.

Nitrogen Cycle

The circulation of nitrogen in nature, consisting of a cycle of chemical reactions in which atmospheric nitrogen is compounded, dissolved in rain, and deposited in the soil, where it is assimilated and metabolized by bacteria and plants, eventually returning to the atmosphere by bacterial decomposition of organic matter.

Phosphorous Cycle

The movement of phosphorous atoms from rocks and soil through the biosphere and hydrosphere and back to soil.


The process in green plants and certain other organisms by which carbohydrates are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water using light as an energy source. Most forms of photosynthesis release oxygen as a byproduct.

Potential Energy

The energy of a particle or system of particles derived from position, or condition, rather than motion. A raised weight, coiled spring, or charged battery has potential energy.

Solar Energy

Energy from the sun that is converted into thermal, chemical, or electrical energy.


Happening or arising without apparent external cause; self-generated. Arising from a natural inclination or impulse and not from external incitement or constraint. Unconstrained and unstudied in manner or behavior. Growing without cultivation or human labor; indigenous.

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Atmosphere, Weather, Air Quality

Acid rain

Rain (and snow, fog, dust particles, etc.) containing acids that form in the atmosphere when sulfur dioxides and nitrogen oxides from industrial emissions and automobile exhaust combine with water.


Resulting from human activity


A fibrous incombustible mineral known to cause fibrosis and scarring in the lungs. Also a known carcinogenic material (lung cancer, mesothelioma).

Auto emissions standards

The standards that are set to regulate how much pollution is put out by your vehicle.

Barometric Pressure

Atmospheric pressure as indicated by a barometer.

Carbon monoxide (CO)

A colorless, odorless, highly poisonous gas, CO, formed by the incomplete combustion of carbon or a carbonaceous material, such as gasoline.

Catalytic converter

A reaction chamber typically containing a finely divided platinum-iridium catalyst into which exhaust gases from an automotive engine are passed together with excess air so that carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon pollutants are oxidized to carbon dioxide and water.

CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons)

A series of hydrocarbons containing both chlorine and fluorine. These have been used as refrigerants, blowing agents, cleaning fluids, solvents, and as fire extinguishing agents. They have been shown to cause stratospheric ozone depletion and have been banned for many uses.

Clean Air Act

Long standing federal legislation that is the legal basis for the national clean air programs, last amended in 1990.


A chemical change, especially oxidation, accompanied by the production of heat and light.

Command and control

Requires polluters to meet specific emission-reduction targets and often requires the installation and use of specific types of equipment to reduce emissions.


Of or relating to or characteristic of a continent (one of the large landmasses of the earth).

Convection cell

The transfer of heat or other atmospheric properties by massive motion within the atmosphere, especially by such motion directed upward.

Coriolis effect

The observed effect of the Coriolis force, especially the deflection of an object moving above the earth, rightward in the northern hemisphere and leftward in the southern hemisphere.

Criteria pollutants

The 1970 amendments to the Clean Air Act required EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for certain pollutants known to be hazardous to human health. EPA has identified six criteria pollutants: sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen oxides, ozone, and particulate matter.


To become widely scattered (seeds).

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

The formation of an El Nino is linked with the cycling of a Pacific Ocean circulation pattern known as the southern oscillation. In a normal year, a surface low pressure develops in the region of northern Australia and Indonesia and a high pressure system over the coast of Peru. As a result, the trade winds over the Pacific Ocean move strongly from east to west. The easterly flow of the trade winds carries warm surface waters westward, bringing convective storms to Indonesia and coastal Australia. Along the coast of Peru, cold bottom water wells up to the surface to replace the warm water that is pulled to the west.


Of or relating to electric charges at rest or produced or caused by such charges. 

Eye, Eye wall

The eye of a hurricane is the center where no storm activity is taking place. The wall is the area between the eye and the storm.

Fossil fuel

A hydrocarbon deposit, such as petroleum, coal, or natural gas, derived from living matter of a previous geologic time and used for fuel.

Fujita Scale

A scale measuring the intensity of a tornado based on wind speed, diameter, and damage caused.

Hurricane Nor'easter

A hurricane that generates from the northeast and move southwest.

Hydroxyl radical (OH)

The monovalent group -OH in such compounds as bases and some acids and alcohols. This radical is characteristic of hydroxides, oxygen acids, alcohols, glycols, phenols, and hemiacetals.


A line on a weather map connecting points of equal atmospheric pressure. Also called isopiestic.

Jet stream

A high-speed, meandering wind current, generally moving from a westerly direction at speeds often exceeding 400 kilometers (250 miles) per hour at altitudes of 15 to 25 kilometers (10 to 15 miles).


The angular distance north or south of the earth's equator, measured in degrees along a meridian, as on a map or globe. A region of the earth considered in relation to its distance from the equator


A soft, malleable, ductile, bluish-white, dense metallic element, extracted chiefly from galena and used in containers and pipes for corrosives, solder and type metal, bullets, radiation shielding, paints, and antiknock compounds. Atomic number 82; atomic weight 207.19; melting point 327.5oC; boiling point 1,744oC; specific gravity 11.35; valence 2, 4.

Legionnaires Disease

An acute bacterial respiratory illness caused by the gram-negative bacterium Legionella pneumophila, a member of the family Legionellaceae. The bacteria has been found in water systems and can survive in the air conditioning systems of large buildings. Risk factors for infection include smoking, COPD, renal failure, cancer, diabetes and alcoholism.

Marine Climate

As its name suggests west coast marine climates are generally found on the western sides of continents in the belt of the westerly winds between roughly 40 to 60 degrees latitude. This location produces a climate that is humid, often quite rainy, with mild temperatures considering the fairly high latitudes. This is, of course, the effect of having large bodies of water to windward. Water is a great modifier of temperatures because it heats and cools slowly. The proximity of water to windward leads to much milder winter temperatures and somewhat cooler summer temperatures than are experienced at continental locations at the same latitudes.  climates are considered by some to be gloomy climates, because they are the world's cloudiest climates. Distinctive kind of biological community adapted to those conditions.


A high-frequency electromagnetic wave, one millimeter to one meter in wavelength, intermediate between infrared and short-wave radio wavelengths.


A wind system that influences large climatic regions and reverses direction seasonally. A wind from the southwest or south that brings heavy rainfall to southern Asia in the summer. The rain that accompanies this wind.

Montreal Protocol

Treaty, signed in 1987,that governs stratospheric ozone protection and research, and the production and use of ozone-depleting substances. It provides for the end of production of ozone-depleting substances such as CFC's. Under the Protocol, various research groups continue to assess the ozone layer. The Multilateral Fund provides resources to developing nations to promote the transition to ozone-safe technologies.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards

Health-based pollutant concentration limits established by EPA that apply to outside air.


A storm blowing from the northeast.

Open burning

Uncontrolled fires in an open dump.

Orographic effect (Chinook winds)

A moist wind blowing from the sea on the NW United States coast.

Ozone (layer)

A colorless gas (O3) soluble in alkalis and cold water; a strong oxidizing agent; can be produced by electric discharge in oxygen or by the action of ultraviolet radiation on oxygen in the stratosphere (where it acts as a screen for ultraviolet radiation).

pH scale

p(otential of) H(ydrogen); the logarithm of the reciprocal of hydrogen-ion concentration in gram atoms per liter; used as a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0 (most acid)-14(most basic)  7 is neutral.


Particulates that are less than 10 microns in diameter. These particulates are present in the smoke created by burning wood.


Pollution control device that collects particles from an air stream.


A radioactive gaseous element formed by the disintegration of radium; the heaviest of the inert gasses; occurs naturally (especially in areas over granite) and is considered a hazard to health.

Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT)

The lowest emissions limit that a particular source can meet by the application of control technology that is reasonably available considering technological and economic feasibility.


A scale to measure hurricanes based on wind speeds and air pressure.


An air pollution device that uses a spray of water or reactant or a dry process to trap pollutants in emissions.

Sick Building Syndrome

Building whose occupants experience acute health and/or comfort effects that appear to be linked to time spent therein, but where no specific illness or cause can be identified. Complaints may be localized in a particular room or zone, or may spread throughout the building.

Smog (industrial)

Primarily a winter phenomenon that occurs when sulfur dioxide emissions and smoke particles react with water vapor.

Smog (photochemical)

Air pollution produced by the action of sunlight on hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, and other pollutants.


An ordered array of the components of an emission or wave.

Stack emissions

Emissions of pollutants from a smoke stack

Storm Surge

Storm surges are giant waves, often fifty miles wide and twenty-five feet or more high, that are caused by the force of a hurricane. As the eye of the hurricanes makes landfall, the wave comes sweeping across the coastline. Aided by the hammering effect of the breaking of the waves, it acts like a giant bulldozer sweeping everything in its path.


The region of the atmosphere above the troposphere and below the mesosphere.

Sulfur oxides

A molecule formed by the combination of sulfur and oxygen (SOx)

Suspended particulate matter (SPM), Aerosols

A suspension or dispersion of fine particles of a solid or liquid in a gas.

Temperature inversions

The temperature rising/falling in an atmospheric condition. (Rises w/ increasing altitude).


A rotating column of air usually accompanied by a funnel-shaped downward extension of a cumulonimbus cloud and having a vortex several hundred yards in diameter whirling destructively at speeds of up to 500 miles (800 kilometers) per hour.

Tropical Depression

Brings about hurricanes due to change in weather, climate, altitude, latitude, or direction.


The lowest atmospheric layer; from 4 to 11 miles high (depending on latitude).


An eddying motion of the atmosphere that interrupts the flow of wind.


A tropical cyclone occurring in the western Pacific or Indian oceans.

UV radiation

Radiation from the sun that can be useful or potentially harmful. UV rays from one part of the spectrum (UV-A) enhance plant life. UV rays from other parts of the spectrum (UV-B) can cause skin cancer or other tissue damage. The ozone layer in the atmosphere partly shields us from ultraviolet rays reaching the earth's surface.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

Chemicals that tend to volatilize or evaporate.


A spiral motion of fluid within a limited area, especially a whirling mass of water or air that sucks everything near it toward its center.


Moving air, especially a natural and perceptible movement of air parallel to or along the ground.

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Ecosystems, Biomes, Populations

Abiotic Factor

An environmental factor which is nonliving such as water, soil, temperature, sunlight


To be accustomed to the natural factors that are in a given area and to be able to survive these factors, being either positive or negative.


Anything that serves no particular purpose except to give bulk or weight to something or that provides additional stability.


The genetic, species, and ecological diversity of the organisms in a given area.


The total mass of living matter within a given unit of environmental area.


A broad, regional type of ecosystem characterized by distinctive climate and soil conditions


A group of organisms having common ancestors and certain distinguishable characteristics, especially a group within a species developed by artificial selection and maintained by controlled propagation.


An organism that eats only the meat of other organisms.

Carrying Capacity

The maximum number of individuals of any species that can be supported by a particular ecosystem on a long-term basis.


Dynamic systems that jump abruptly from one seemingly steady state to another without any immediate changes. A detrimental effect that something has on an environment, perhaps a natural disaster, that destroys the ecosystem and surrounding living conditions.

CITES Treaty

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In 1989, participating countries agreed to ban the sale of endangered species and their body parts.

Commercial Breeding

Breeding animal and plants for commercial significance, such as breeding dogs,

Commercial Harvesting

The harvesting of animals or cash crops for commercial reasons.


A group of various populations in a given area


Needle-bearing trees that produce seeds in cones.


An organism that obtains energy and nutrients by feeding on other organisms or their remains.


Organisms that get their energy by eating other organisms

Coral Reefs

Prominent oceanic features composed of hard, lime skeletons produced by coral animals; usually formed along the edges of shallow, submerged ocean banks or along shelves in warm, shallow, tropical seas.

Deciduous forest

A forest made up of trees that drop their leaves seasonally


Fungi and bacteria that break complex organic material into smaller molecules.

Detritus Feeders

Organisms that breakdown dead materials and organic compounds in an ecosystem and thus obtain their nutrients and energy


An organism that behaves in such a way as to be in a position over others of the same species. The allele of a gene which requires only one copy to be present in an individual for that trait to be present.

Dynamic State of Equilibrium

a steady state found in an ecosystem or an system where change is not observed because while there are changes in progress they are not observable because they are balanced


A specific biological community and its physical environment interacting in an exchange of matter and energy.

Endangered Species

Species that are considered in imminent danger of extinction.

Energy Cycle

The means by which energy is cycled through the biosphere


The wide lower course of a river where the tide flows in, causing fresh and salt water to mix.


Coniferous trees and broad-leaved plants that retain their leaves year-round.

Exponential Curve

(GROWTH ASSOCIATED) Growth at a constant rate of increase per unit of time; can be expressed as a constant fraction or exponent.


The irrevocable elimination of species; can be a normal process of the natural world as species out-compete or kill off others or as environmental conditions change.


Measurement of actual number of offspring produced through sexual reproduction; usually described in terms of number of offspring of females, since paternity can be difficult to determine.


Rising and falling, such as population numbers.

Food Chain

A linked feeding series; in an ecosystem, the sequence of organisms through which energy and materials are transferred, in the form of food, from one trophic level to another.

Food Web

A complex, interlocking series of individual food chains in an ecosystem.

Gene Pool

The collective genetic information contained within a population of sexually reproducing organisms.

Genetic Diversity

Diversity in a population on a genetic level


The place or set of environmental conditions in which a particular organism lives.


An organism that eats only plants.


Not available

Introduced Species

A non-native species that has been brought to an area either by accident or intentionally. An introduced species may prey upon or compete more successfully with one or more population that are native to the community and alter the entire nature of the community; also known as alien species or exotic species.


A population that is separated from other populations of the species (as on an island).

J-Shaped Curve

The curve in a graph that depicts exponential growth. (Literally looking like J)

Law of the minimum

The concept that the growth or survival of a population is directly related to the life requirement that is in least supply and not to a combination of factors.


The moving of one species or a group of species from one area to another.


Death rate in population; the probability of dying.

Native Species

Species that are originally found in a certain area.


A specific category that an organism fits into in an environment and their role in carrying out the processes in that ecosystem.


Organisms that eat both plants and the meat of other organisms.


The most favorable condition in regard to an environmental factor.


A group of individuals of the same species occupying a given area.

Population Crash

Drastic decrease in the numbers of individuals in a population over a short period of time

Population Dieback

When the growth of a population slows due to some factor.

Population Explosion

When the growth of a population increases greatly due to some factor.

Primary Producers

Producers that are responsible for a substantial amount of the food for the rest of the food chain in an ecosystem


An organism that synthesizes food molecules from inorganic compounds by using an external energy source; MOST PRODUCERS ARE PHOTOSYNTHETIC!

Recreational Fishing

By the 1890s most states in the US have put restrictions on fishing, today a fishing license is needed to fish for recreation in lakes and inland bodies of water.


An internal mechanism by which a system or organizes controls its functions


A taxonomic category subordinate to a genus (or subgenus) and superior to a subspecies or variety, composed of individuals possessing common characters distinguishing them from other categories of individuals of the same taxonomic level. In taxonomic nomenclature, species are designated by the genus name followed by a Latin or Latinised adjective or noun.


A population of morphologically similar organisms that can reproduce sexually among themselves but cannot produce fertile offspring when mated with other organisms.

Sport Hunting

Hunting animal not for just for food

S-Shaped Curve

A curve that depicts logistic growth. (Literally looking like S)


Species that have declined significantly in total number and may be on the verge of extinction in certain areas.

Trophic Levels

Step in the movement of energy through an ecosystem; an organism's feeding status in an ecosystem.


Not under control, discipline, or governance

Zebra Mussel

A European and Asian freshwater mussel regarded as a nuisance in the Great Lakes and surrounding waterways where it was accidentally introduced. Latin name Dreissena polymorpha

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Human Population Dynamics

"Baby Boom"

A sudden large increase in the birthrate over a particular period, especially the 15 years after World War II.

Birth Control

Any method used to reduce births, including celibacy, delayed marriage, contraception; devices of medication that prevent implantation of fertilized zygote, and induce abortion.

Demographic Transition

A change in the make up of a human population or group from one set of characteristics to another.


The characteristics of a human population or part of it, especially its size, growth, density, distribution, and statistics regarding birth, marriage, disease, and death.

Family Planning

Controlling reproduction; planning the timing and number of births for the purpose of having as many babies as are wanted and can be supported.


Acute food shortage characterized by large-scale loss of life, social disruption, and economic chaos.

Fertility Rate

The number of children born to an average woman.


A statistical graph of a frequency distribution in which vertical rectangles of different heights are proportionate to corresponding frequencies. Used to graph distributions of populations, such as the percentage of the population in a certain age group.


A disease that spreads very rapidly, infecting very large numbers of people and killing a great many of them, or an outbreak of such a disease.

Total Fertility Rate

The number of children born to an average woman in a population during reproductive life.

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Global Changes


A suspension of solid or liquid particles within the air; Man-made aerosols (dust particles) in the atmosphere are believed to reduce solar radiation reaching the surface of the earth and therefore to produce a cooling effect on global temperatures


The fraction of incident light that is reflected by an object, especially the Earth or another planet reflecting the Sun's light.


Living without oxygen.


Deviation from the normal order or rule.

Carbon Cycle

The series of interlinked processes, including photosynthesis and respiration, through which carbon, mainly in the form of carbon compounds, is exchanged between living organisms and the nonliving environment. Carbon dioxide is taken from the atmosphere by photosynthesizing plants and returned by the respiration of plants and animals and by the combustion of fossil fuels.

Carbon Sinks

Places of carbon accumulation, such as large forests (organic compounds) or ocean sediments, (calcium carbonate); carbon is thus removed from the carbon cycle for moderately long to very long periods of time.


A description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area.

Global Warming

Increase in the average temperature of the Earth. The average temperature of the Earth has risen and fallen over periods of millions of years (such as during Ice Ages) but current concern is that the increase in greenhouse gases generated by humans, particularly carbon dioxide emissions from use of fossil fuels, will contributing to global warming. Preferred term now is global climate changes because changes in average temperatures have effects on other aspects of weather and climate, including amount of rainfall.

Greenhouse Gas

A gas such as carbon dioxide, ozone, or water vapor that contributes to the warming of the Earth's atmosphere by reflecting radiation from the Earth's surface. ie CO2, methane, chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), & nitrous oxide.


An organic chemical compound containing only hydrogen and carbon atoms, arranged in rows, rings, or both, and connected by single, double, or triple bonds. Hydrocarbons constitute a very large group including alkanes, alkenes, and alkynes.

Kyoto Conference

Convention on global warming.

Nitrogen Cycle

Basic principles of the nitrogen cycle:


*N2 is most abundant gas in atmosphere (78%)


*nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert it to NH3


nitrate-forming bacteria combine NH3 with oxygen to form NO2 and then NO3


*Plants absorb and make NH4


*consumers eat plants


*Nitrogen re-enters the environment when these organisms die, shed, urinate, produce excrement


*De-nitrifying bacteria break down into N2 and the process repeats


A process by which green plants and other organisms produce simple carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and hydrogen, using energy that chlorophyll or other organic cellular pigments absorb from radiant sources.


Microscopic aquatic organisms that photosynthesize.


To return light rays from a surface in such a way that the angle at which a give ray is returned is equal to the angle at which it strikes the surface.


To alter the course of a wave of energy that passes into something from another medium, as water does to light entering it from the air; caused by differences in wave speed.

Regional Consequences

The impact of global climate changes vary from one region to another; some dry areas may become wetter, another region may have less precipitation.


Few in number and far apart in distance or time.

Tragedy of the Commons

The overuse or over harvesting and consequent depletion and/or destruction of a renewable resource that tends to occur when the resource is treated as a commons, that is when it is open to be used or harvested by any and all with the means to do so.


Capable of transmitting light so that objects or images can be seen as if there were no intervening material.


Movement of nutrient-rich bottom water to the ocean's surface. This can occur far from shore but usually occurs along certain steep coastal areas, where the surface layer of ocean water is pushed away from shore and replaced by cold, nutrient-rich bottom water.

Urban Heat Island

In large cities, expanses of paved surfaces, particularly asphalt, absorbs heat during day and radiates heat at night. Sparse vegetatation and paved surfaces increase rain runoff, furthering reducing cooling effects. Temperatures in the cities are usually 3-5 degrees hotter than surrounding country side.

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Reduced by a degree or intensity, elimination of pollution.

Airborne Particulates

Any particulates that are in the air.

Alaska Pipeline

Built from April 29, 1974 to June 20, 1977, this above ground pipeline 799 miles through Alaska, brings oil from the oil wells in northern Alaska to the shipping ports in southern Alaska.

Alternative Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources are those that are replenished by natural processes at rates exceeding their rate of use for human purposes, unlike fossil fuels which are not replenished at a useful rate. Sources considered renewable include solar, biomass, wind, geothermal, hydropower.

Arab Oil Embargo

In late October, 1973, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia influenced Arab oil producing nations who were also members of OPEC (Oil Producing and Exporting Countries) to agree to an embargo (a government order prohibiting the movement of merchant ships into or out of its ports) of crude oil to Western nations who had supplied weapons and other aid to Israel, as a punishment to its friends. This caused oil to be in short supply and drove up oil prices in the countries effected.


A mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by bacterial degradation of organic matter and used as a fuel.


A soft intermediate grade of coal; the most commonly used grade.

Black Lung Disease

Lung disease caused by inhaling coal dust.


Lack of illumination caused by an electrical power failure.

Breeder Reactor

A nuclear reactor that produces more fuel than it consumes. This kind of reactor is used mainly to produce plutonium.

British Thermal Unit

Measure of heat energy. 1 BTU=1055 joules or 0.293 watt-hours. The amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound water one degree Fahrenheit


The amount of heat that it takes to raise a gram of water one degree Celsius.


Barrels that are used to store the spent fuels.

Chain Reaction

Physics. A multistage nuclear reaction, especially a self-sustaining series of fissions in which the release of neutrons from the splitting of one atom leads to the splitting of others.


City in Russia where a nuclear power plant suffered a melt-down due to poor decisions made by power plant workers. The resulting explosions killed killed a number of workers and spewed radioactive debris and dust in the air, which were carried by winds across the Russia and other countries in the former Soviet Union.

Coal Liquefaction

Chemical process by which solid coal is converted to a liquid. This is referred to as a synfuel or synthetic fuel.


A power generation process that increases efficiency by harnessing the heat that would otherwise be wasted in the fuel combustion process, and using it to generate electricity, warm buildings, or for other purposes.


A process in which an industrial facility uses its waste energy to produce heat or electricity.


The controlled use and systematic protection of natural resources, such as forests, soil, and water systems.

Containment building

Reinforced concrete building housing the nuclear reactor. Designed to contain an explosion should one occur.

Conventional Energy

Energy from sources such as fossil fuels that are in wide use.


To express a quantity in alternative units.

Cooling System

A mechanical system that is used to cause a decrease in temperature of something such as a refrigerator, or home, or nuclear power plant.

Cooling Towers

A massive tower designed to dissipate waste heat from a power plant (or other industrial plant) in to the atmosphere.

Cooling water

Water used to cool the heated water after use in a nuclear reactor so that the water can be reheated.


The breaking of the long carbon chains found in the hydrocarbons in crude oil by heating at high temperatures to form smaller molecules that are more useful.


Material formed from the parent material after a given process such as nuclear decay or movement through the rock cycle.


The gradual use or consumption of a resource, especially a natural resource.

Depository or repository

A place where something is kept for safekeeping or storage, such as a warehouse or store for furniture or valuables. Yucca Mountain in New Mexico is being studied as a potential depository for spent nuclear fuel.


An isotope of hydrogen with one proton and one neutron in the nucleus having an atomic weight of 2.014


Fuel that is made of hydrocarbons that are 16 carbons long; a high compression internal combustion engine.

Differential Heat

Heat always flows from hot objects to cold objects; this is the second law of thermodynamics. This flow of heat from warmer areas to cooler areas because of the difference in heat or differential heat, can be harnessed and used. See the OTEC (ocean thermal energy conversion) plant below.


To take apart


The extraction of volatile components of a mixture by the condensation and collection of the vapors that are produced as the mixture is heated.


Animal excrement, a biomass, which use as a fuel for heating or cooking in many countries.


The ability to do work.

Energy Crisis

Crisis as a result of the deficiency of energy supplies.

Enriched Uranium

Uranium ore occurs naturally in a state that cannot be used in most reactors or to make nuclear weapons. Enriching the uranium makes it easier to use in reactors. The enrichment process increases the amount of the fissionable uranium-235 isotope. Uranium enriched to contain less than 20 percent uranium-235 is called low enriched uranium. Uranium enriched to contain 20 percent or greater uranium-235 is highly-enriched uranium that can be directly used to make nuclear weapons.


To place in or as if in a tomb or grave


Symbol S. For a closed thermodynamic system, a quantitative measure of the amount of thermal energy not available to do work.

Estimated Reserves

Reserves of resources whose quantity has been only estimated and are not known for certain.


Ethanol (ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, ETOH) is a clear, colorless liquid that has been made since ancient times by fermenting sugars and starches from potatoes, corn, wheat, and other plants. Ethanol is, among many other uses, blended with gasoline to increase its oxygen content to reduce pollutants from automobile emissions.

Eutectic Fluid

Eutectic salts (salts that melt at low temperatures) are phase-changing chemicals that are used in active solar heating to store solar energy. Heating melts these materials and cooling returns them to the original phase.

Finite Resources

Natural resources that can be worn out (all used up) and cannot be replaced. (i.e. coal)


The rubbing of two objects against each other when one or both are moving. A significant percentage of the energy produced by an automobile engine is dissipated in friction, reducing the overall efficiency of the system.

Fuel Assembly Encased

A bundle of hollow metal rods containing uranium oxide pellets; used to fuel a nuclear reactor.

Fuel Cell

An electrochemical device with no moving parts that converts the chemical energy of a fuel, such as hydrogen, and an oxidant, such as oxygen, directly into electricity.

Fuel Rods

Rods that contain nuclear fuel that are put into a nuclear reactor.

Fuel wood

Wood that is used as a source of energy, usually by burning.

Gas hydrates

Gas hydrate is a crystalline solid consisting of gas molecules, usually methane, each surrounded by a cage of water molecules. Gas hydrates in marine sediments are a significant source of methane.


The act or process of converting into or becoming gas


A fuel consisting of a blend of ethyl alcohol and unleaded gasoline, especially a blend of 10 percent ethanol and 90 percent gasoline.


A volatile flammable liquid made from petroleum and used as fuel in internal-combustion engines; made up of hydrocarbons that are made of 8 carbon chains.

General Mining Law of 1872

Governs all mining in the U.S. and has recently come under attack.


Of or relating to the internal heat of the earth.

Greenhouse Effect

The phenomenon whereby the earth's atmosphere traps solar radiation, caused by the presence in the atmosphere of gases such as carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane that allow incoming sunlight to pass through but absorb heat radiated back from the earth's surface.

Half lives (of radioisotopes)

The length of time required for half the nuclei in a sample to change in another isotope.

Heat exchanger

A material or system that exchanges heat from one system or material to another.

Heat Tax

Tax imposed on the use of energy supplies.

Hidden energy

Energy within a system that you are not aware of.

High Level Wastes

Wastes that are highly radioactive.

Home Energy Audits

Auditing or analyzing the expenditure of energy in a home including the loss of energy.


Any of numerous organic compounds, such as petroleum, coal, and methane, that contain only carbon and hydrogen.


Generating electricity by conversion of the energy of running water.


Water power. Flowing rivers of water that is transformed into energy by using dams, waterwheels or other devices.

Incentive Programs

Programs that reward the participants to achieve a desired result.

Industrial Revolution

The complex of radical socioeconomic changes, such as the ones that took place in England in the late 18th century, which are brought about when extensive mechanization of production systems results in a shift from home-based hand manufacturing to large-scale factory production.

Infrared Radiation

Electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves.


The act or an instance of exposing to sunlight.


Forms of single element that differ in atomic mass due to different number of neutrons in the nucleus.

James Bay Project

A series of more than 600 dams along the eastern shore of the Hudson Bay.


Measurement of energy. Ex. 1 Joule of energy is required to lift 1 kilogram, 1 meter.


A colorless flammable oil distilled from petroleum and used as a fuel for jet engines, heating, cooking, and lighting.

Kinetic Energy

Energy contained in moving objects such as a rock rolling down a hill, the wind blowing through the trees, or water flowing over a dam.


Malignant neoplasm of blood-forming tissues; characterized by abnormal proliferation of leukocytes; one of the four major types of cancer.


Lignite is a soft, brownish-black coal in which the alteration of vegetable matter has proceeded further than in peat but not as far as in bituminous or anthracite coal. Also called brown coal.

Low Level Wastes

Wastes that are not highly radioactive.


Severe overheating of a nuclear reactor core, resulting in melting of the core and escape of radiation.


An odorless, colorless, flammable gas, CH4, the major constituent of natural gas, that is used as a fuel and is an important source of hydrogen and a wide variety of organic compounds.


To moderate (a quality or condition) in force or intensity; alleviate.


A substance, for example, graphite or beryllium, that slows neutrons in a nuclear reactor so that they can bring about the fission of uranium


Particle found in the nucleus of an atom that is the same size as a proton but have no charge.

Nuclear Fission

A process in which two smaller atomic nuclei fuse into one larger nucleus and release energy; the source of power in a hydrogen bomb.


Center of atom, occupied by proton and neutrons, contains DNA in cells.

Ocean Thermal Electric Conversions (OTEC)

Energy derived from temperature differentials between warm ocean surface waters and cold deep waters. This differential can be used to drive turbines attached to electric generators.

Oil Glut

When the supply of oil on the market greatly exceeds demand, resulting in lower oil prices.

Oil shale

A sedimentary rock containing kerogen, which when heat yields a synthetic crude oil, which can be processed into gasoline. Also not widely used because of the cost and environmental impacts


Acronym for Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries founded in 1960 to unify and coordinate petroleum policies of the members.

Operating Efficiency

Determination of how much energy is used by a system that actually results in the desired effect and is not wasted as lost energy.


Original radioactive atom or any type of material.


The very top of a mountain or elevated range of land The high point which data reaches in a graph or chart.


Chemicals synthesized from oil.


An energy-conversion device that captures solar energy and directly converts it to electrical current.

Photovoltaic Cells

A semiconductor that converts light directly into electricity.


Radioactive element used in nuclear reactions.

Proven Reserves

Reserves of resources that are known to exist.

Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978

Encourage small-scale power production facilities by requiring utilities to purchase excess electricity generated by "qualified facilities" (such as facilities using renewable sources or cogeneration) and to provide backup power at a reasonable cost.


1 x 1015 Btu (British Thermal Units) = 1 exajoule = 1 x 1018 joules = 1 quad

Radioactive Decay

A change in the nuclei of radioactive isotopes that spontaneously emit high energy electromagnetic radiation and/or subatomic particles while gradually changing into another isotope or different elements.

Radioactive waste

Material that is no longer useful or wanted that contains radioactive material.


Industrial plants that take in crude oil and refine it into a variety of hydrocarbon products.


Of or relating to a large geographic region.


(Roentgen equivalent man), a unit used in radiation protection to measure the amount of damage to human tissue from a dose of ionizing radiation. The amount of ionizing radiation required to produce the same biological effect as one rad of high-penetration x-rays. An average American receives about 0.370 rems of radiation per year.

Resource recovery

The recovery of resources after their use and either recycling them for reuse or properly disposing of them

Salt Domes

A solid mass of salt that was once fluid and flowed into fractures in surrounding rock and geologic structures; salt domes

Seismic Activity

Caused by an earthquake.

Spent Fuel

The uranium cores that are taken out of the nuclear power plant.


To maintain an unfluctuating level of something; to become stable, or make something stable

Steam generator

Turns the steam and the hot water into electricity. In a Nuclear Power Plant.


Making an organism barren or infertile (unable to reproduce) To clear of living organisms with heat or use of chemicals.

Strip Mining

Removing surface layers over coal seams using, giant earth moving equipment; creates a huge open pit from which coal is scooped by enormous surface operated machines and transported by trucks; an alternative to deep mines.

Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act

Passed to protect society and the environment from adverse effects of surface mining; assures land reclamation after the mining has occurred.


Synthetic gas or synthetic oil made from coal or other sources.

Tar sands

Unconventional form of oil, liquid petroleum can be extracted with hot water, however not widely used because of the cost and environmental impacts.

Tax Incentive

Reduction in taxes given to encourage a specific behavior on the part of the recipient.

Terrestrial Reradiation

As the sunlight hits the land it is radiated back into space.


A branch of physics that deals with transfers and conversions of energy.

Three Mile Island

Nuclear power site at Harrisburg, PA. In 1979 suffered a partial meltdown of the core reactor. Most of the radioactive material was kept inside containment building.

Tidal Power

Energy produced by the motion of waves.

Tidal Power

The use of the energy found in the wave motion of bodies of water.


A rare radioactive hydrogen isotope with atomic mass 3 and half-life 12.5 years, prepared artificially for use as a tracer and as a constituent of hydrogen bombs.


Giant seismic sea swells that move rapidly from the center of an earthquake; they can be 10 to 20 meters high when they reach shorelines hundreds or even thousands of kilometers from their source.


Any of various machines in which the kinetic energy of a moving fluid is converted to mechanical power by the impulse or reaction of the fluid with a series of buckets, paddles, or blades arrayed about the circumference of a wheel or cylinder.


An isotope of Uranium used in nuclear power plants.


Radioactive element used in nuclear reactions in obtaining nuclear energy.

Utility Companies, Public Utilities

Companies that supply services such as electrical power and communications (telephone service) used in daily life.


Having a relatively high resistance to flow.

Watt, Kilowatt

A unit of measure of electric power at a point in time as capacity or demand. 1 watt = 1 joule/second; 1 joule = energy spent in one second when a current of 1 amp flows through a resistance of 1 ohm; 1 kilowatt - 1 000 watt

Yucca Mountain, NV

U.S. Department of Energy's potential underground geological repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.

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Choices For The Future

Aesthetic Values

Sensitive to or appreciative of the beauty present in the environment.


The whole area of the Earth's surface, atmosphere, and sea that is inhabited by living things.


The preservation, management, and care of natural and cultural resources; the keeping or protecting of something from change, loss, or damage.


Somebody who campaigns for, supports, or works toward the preservation, management, and care of the environment, especially of natural resources in the countryside.


A combination of adventure travel , cultural exploration, and nature appreciation in wild settings.

Gaia Hypothesis

A theory that the living organisms of the biosphere form a single complex interaction system that creates and maintains a habitable Earth; Gaia is the Greek Goddess of Earth.

Sustainable Development

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


A philosophy that resources should be used for the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time.

Wilderness Act

To establish a National Wilderness Preservation System for the permanent good of the whole people, and for other purposes.