Term Definition
Air The mixture of gases found in Earth’s atmosphere. Dry air is primarily nitrogen (N2 = 78%) and oxygen (O2 = 21%).
Altitude The elevation above sea level.
Atmosphere The gases that surround a planet or moon. On Earth, the air.
Climate The average weather for a place over a long period of time (usually at least 30 years).
Clouds A visible collection of water droplets in the atmosphere. Clouds usually form hundreds of meters above Earth’s surface but fog is a cloud formed near Earth’s surface.
Condensation The process of change in state from gas to liquid, or the droplets of liquid formed from this process.
Energy The ability to cause motion. Energy comes in many forms and is measured in joules
Evaporation The process of change in state from a liquid to a gas.
Exosphere The uppermost layer of the earth’s atmosphere.
Freezing To change from a liquid to a solid state.
Front (Cold, Warm) A boundary where a mass of air meets another air mass of a different temperature.
Gulf Stream A strong ocean current that flows on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean from the Gulf of Mexico to northwestern Europe.
Humbity The amount of water vapor in the air.
Hypothesis A possible explanation of some phenomena, based on observations, and which suggests a means of being tested.
Landform A feature of the earth’s surface such as a lake, stream, valley, canyon, hill, ridge, or mountain.
Latitude The distance in degrees of a location north or south of the equator.
Melting To change from a solid to liquid state.
Mesosphere A layer of the earth’s atmosphere where temperature decreases with altitude; between the stratosphere and thermosphere.
Meteorologist A scientist who studies the weather.
Ocean Current Regular movements of large amounts of water in the ocean.
Precipitation The movement of water, in solid or liquid form, from the atmosphere back to the surface of the earth. Rain, snow, sleet, and hail are examples.
Pressure (High, Low) A force applied to a surface. It is measured in a force unit per area, such as psi (pounds per square inch) or millibars (100 newtons per square meter).
Prevailing Wind The most common wind direction for a region. On the earth, the direction of the prevailing winds are related to the latitude of the region.
Stratosphere The region of Earth’s atmosphere between the troposphere and mesosphere.
Thermosphere The region of the atmosphere above the mesosphere in which temperature steadily increases with altitude.
Troposphere The lowest layer of the earth’s atmosphere, where people live and most weather occurs.
Water Cycle The movement of water from one state to another as it circulates through the earth’s crust, oceans, and atmosphere.
Water Vapor Water in a gaseous state.
Weather The condition of the atmosphere, including temperature, precipitation, and cloud cover, at a particular time and place.
Wind The horizontal movement of air from areas of higher pressure toward areas of lower pressure.

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