Week 8 Vocabulary for Environmental Science

Term Definition
ethics a guiding philosophy, or a discipline of dealing with what is good and bad; a moral obligation of sorts or principles on how to conduct ones self
biosphere contains all of the life in, on, and around the earth
lithosphere contains the land and rocks on earth
hydrosphere contains the water on earth and in the atmosphere
atmosphere contains all of the gases around the earth
conserve to protect or keep safe
soil the top layer of the surface of the Earth in which plants can grow, made over thousands of years from weathered rocks, minerals, and decaying organic materials
weathering when rocks and minerals crumble and wear away
humus decayed plant and animal matter that supplies soil with nutrients
horizons distinct layers of soil with different characteristics
soil profile a vertical view of the soil and all of its horizons
O horizon layer of decomposed organic material; sometimes referred to as topsoil
A horizon dark upper horizon that contains substantial humus as well as some inorganic components, like rock and mineral particles; sometimes referred to as topsoil
B horizon usually lighter in color than the A horizon; characterized by accumulation of clay that gets washed down from the soil above it
C horizon loose material recently weathered from the parent material
R horizon the parent material rock beneath the soil
erosion when soil and rocks are worn by wind, water, glaciers, etc. and carried away or lost
Deforestation the cutting down of trees in large numbers, such that large areas of land are left without forest cover
Overgrazing allowing animals to eat all of the vegetation in an area until the soil and plants are no longer able to stay healthy
desertification when the arable land suffers so badly that it becomes desert
salinization Soil that has an accumulation of salts in it
Contour plowing plowing across the slope of a hill so that the tiny ridges are formed to help prevent the soil from washing down the hill
Compost waste plant material that has been placed in piles to decompose; used to help restore nutrients to the soil
No-till farming a procedure in which the seeds of the next crop are planted in slits cut into the soil through the remains of the previous crop;uses less energy and saves time;
Low-input farming farming without using a great deal of energy, pesticides, fertilizer, and water
Organic farming a type of low-input farming; a method of growing plants without any synthetic pesticides or inorganic fertilizers; keeps the soil planted at all times to avoid erosion and alternate different crops to control pests
de-extinction is a process that brings back to life extinct organisms from death through the use of genetic information and new technologies

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