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21 Cards in this Set

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  • Back

Hadley Cell

a tropical atmospheric circulation that is defined by the average over longitude, which features rising motion near the equator, poleward flow 10–15 kilometers above the surface, descending motion in the subtropics, and equatorward flow near the surface


the lowest portion of Earth's atmosphere


the second major layer of Earth's atmosphere, just above the troposphere, and below the mesosphere


reflection coefficient, is the diffuse reflectivity or reflecting power of a surface

Saturation Point

the stage at which no more of a substance can be absorbed into a vapor or dissolved into a solution

Adiabatic Cooling

occurs when the pressure of a substance is decreased as it does work on its surroundings

Adiabatic heating

occurs when the pressure of a gas is increased from work done on it by its surroundings, e.g., a piston compressing a gas contained within an adiabatic cylinder

Polar Cells

though cool and dry relative to equatorial air, air masses at the 60th parallel are still sufficiently warm and moist to undergoconvection and drive a thermal loop

Coriolis Effect

a deflection of moving objects when they are viewed in a rotating reference frame


any large system of rotating ocean currents, particularly those involved with large windmovements


a phenomenon that involves wind-driven motion of dense, cooler, and usuallynutrient-rich water towards the ocean surface, replacing the warmer, usually nutrient-depleted surface water

Thermohaline Circulation

a part of the large-scale ocean circulation that is driven by globaldensity gradients created by surface heat and freshwater fluxes

El Nino (ENSO)

associated with a band of warm ocean water temperatures that periodically develops off the Pacific coast of South America. It is a phase of 'El Niño Southern Oscillation' (ENSO), which refers to variations in the temperature of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean and in air surface pressure in the tropical western Pacific

Rain Shadow

a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area (away from the wind). The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems and cast a "shadow" of dryness behind them

Coral Bleaching

the loss of intracellular endosymbionts (Symbiodinium, also known as zooxanthellae) through either expulsion or loss of algal pigmentation

Photic Zone

sunlight zone is the depth of the water in a lake or ocean that is exposed to sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis to occur

Aphotic Zone

is the portion of a lake or ocean where there is little or no sunlight. It is formally defined as the depths beyond which less than 1% of sunlight penetrates


the biological conversion of one or more carbon molecules (usually carbon dioxide or methane) and nutrients into organic matter using the oxidation of inorganic molecules (e.g. hydrogen gas, hydrogen sulfide) or methane as a source of energy, rather than sunlight, as in photosynthesis


a thick subsurface layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year, occurring chiefly in polar regions

Latent Heat Release

the energy released or absorbed by a body or a thermodynamic system during a constant-temperature process

Intertropical Convergence Zone

the area encircling the earth near the equator where the northeast and southeast trade winds come together