Physical Geography: The Global Environment Units 1-6

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relates to the distribution of physical components of the natural environment
subfield of physical geography relating to geology
subfield of physical geography relating to meteorology
subfield of physical geography relating to biology
plant geography
subfield of physical geography relating to botany
subfield of physical geography relating to zoology
soil geography
subfield of physical geography relating to pedology
marine geography
subfield of physical geography relating to marine science
water resources
subfield of physical geography relating to hydrology
scientific method
1) observe phenomena
2) formulate a hypothesis
3) design an experiment
4) predict the outcome
5) conduct the experiment
6) draw conclusions
valid data
used to evaluate hypotheses
hypothesis that best fits the observed data and helps to explain/answer a question
open system
mass can be gained or lost; both input and output
closed system
mass cannot be gained or lost; no input/output
positive feedback
doesn’t maintain homeostasis; ends up in different condition
negative feedback
maintains homeostasis; ends up at starting condition
dynamic equilibrium
supply and removal are equal
rocks and mineral matter
mixture of gases
water in all forms
frozen water in all forms
all life living on the surface
3D object that is elliptical in cross-section (Earth)
half of a sphere
distribution of land on Earth
around 30%
distribution of sea on Earth
around 70%
angle of horizontal measurement; 0 to 90 degrees
angle of vertical measurement; 0 to 180 degrees
lines of longitude that extend from north to south poles
lines of latitude that are perpendicular to meridians
Prime Meridian
line of longitude that cuts the Earth in half at 0 degrees
International Date Line
line of longitude that separates two calendar days
line of latitude that cuts the Earth in half at 0 degrees
Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS)
system of satellite technologies providing precise location data (ex. GPS)
map projection
Earth’s curved surface transformed for display on flat surface
4 types of distortion
shape, relative area, distance, direction
cylindrical projection
shows true direction, but distorts high latitudes
planar projection
good for showing polar regions, but distorts direction and distance
conic projection
good for showing a small area
equivalent map projection
size and ratio of areas are maintained; distorts shapes on small-scale maps
conformal map projection
proper angular relationships are maintained; distorts size of an area
isoline map
shows contours of equal values
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
computer systems that analyze spatial data
remote sensing
any measurement by a device not in contact with Earth’s surface (ex. aerial photography)
Earth’s movement around the axis
Earth’s movement around the Sun (orbit)
Earth is closest to Sun (Jan. 3)
Earth is farthest from Sun (July 4)
every parallel of latitude is half in light and half in darkness (“equal nights”)
vertical rays reach Tropics of Cancer/Capricorn at 90 degrees (“Sun stands still”)
circle of illumination
boundary between one half of light and one half of darkness
incoming solar radiation
subsolar point
Latitude of the subsolar point, or Sun’s declination, is never farther than 23.5 degrees N or S of Equator
solar noon position
-Vertical Sun is at Equator on equinoxes
-Vertical Sun is at Tropic of Cancer on June Solstice
-Vertical Sun is at Tropic of Capricorn on December Solstice
solar altitude
angle of the Sun above the horizon
the ability to do work or cause change
electromagnetic spectrum
electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths
shortwave radiation
composed of visible light, ultraviolet light, and short infrared light (nearly all solar radiation is shortwave)
longwave radiation
composed of thermal infrared radiation (all terrestrial radiation is longwave)
global radiation balance
incoming solar radiation is either reflected (back to space), transmitted (throughout atmosphere), or absorbed (by atmosphere or surface)
transfer of energy between two objects/substances
average kinetic energy of the motion of molecules in a substance
heat transfer
always transferred from warmer object to cooler object
sensible heat
heat that can be sensed by touch
latent heat
heat that is used and stored when a substance changes state of matter; cannot be sensed/measured
transfer of heat through wavelengths
transfer of heat by direct contact between two substances
transfer of heat by vertical currents
transfer of heat by horizontal currents
percentage of incident energy reflected
greenhouse effect
warming resulting from differential transmission of shortwave and longwave radiation
enhanced greenhouse effect
increase in certain gases in the atmosphere may lead to an increase in the amount of long wave radiation emitted by the Earth
net radiation
difference between incoming and outgoing radiation
constant gas
gas that shows little seasonal variation and changes little from year to year (N2,O2,Ar)
most abundant gas in the atmosphere (~78%)
second most abundant gas (~22%)
inert gas that is present in the atmosphere (~1%)
variable gas
gas that is present in varying quantities (H2O, CO2, O3)
water vapor
varies by location
carbon dioxide
fairly even distribution in lower atmosphere
found mostly in stratosphere
lowest layer of the atmosphere; temp decreases with increasing altitude
layered air; temp increases with increasing altitude
temp increases with increasing altitude
transitions into interplanetary space