Glossary of AP Environmental Science

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To incorporate or take up
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 em

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 t
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 environmenta

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 rele
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

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

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 remove

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
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.


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 Aswa

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

Water containing human excrement whichcannot 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 evapotranspiration.

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 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 evapotranspiration 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 feder
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
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 lak

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 cr

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 rive

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.


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.

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 return
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 lab
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)
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
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 monox
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
Of or relating to electric charges at rest or produced or caused by such charges. Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
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. Ato
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 o
Marine Climate
As its name suggests west coast marine climates (Cfb) 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,
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 o

National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Health-based pollutant concentration limits established by EPA that apply to outside air.
A storm blowing from the northeast.
Orographic effect (Chinook winds)
A moist wind blowing from the sea on the NW United States coast.
Open burning
Uncontrolled fires in an open dump.
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 u
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 0-14 (where 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.
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.
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
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 co
Urban Heat Island
n 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 th
Rreduced 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 through Alaska brings oil from the oil wells in northern Alaska to the shipping ports in southern Alaska.
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 merc
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 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.
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.
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 t
To take apart
Animal excrement, a biomass, which use as a fuel for heating or cooking in many countires.
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-
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, blende
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
bundle of hollow metal rods containing uranium oxide pellets; used to fuel a nuclear reactor.
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.
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.
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 r
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 man
Infrared Radiation
Electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths longer than visible light but shorter than radio waves.
Forms of single element that differ in atomic mass due to different number of neutrons in the nucleus.
The act or an instance of exposing to sunlight.
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 antracite 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 p
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 hydrochemical products.

(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 p

Salt Domes
solid mass of salt that was once fluid and flowed into fractures in surrounding rock and geologic structures; salt domes
Resource recovery
The recovery of resources after their use and either recycling them for reuse or properly disposing of them
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.
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.
Making an organism barren or infertile (unable to reproduce) To clear of living organisms with heat or use of chemicals.
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.

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.
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.
CFC (Chlorofluorocarbons)
A series of hydrocarbons containing both chlorine and fluorine which have been used as refrigerants, blowing agents, cleaning fluids, and solvents; They have been shown to cause stratospheric ozone depletion and have been banned for many years
El Nino Southern Oscillation
The formation of an El Nino is linked with the cycling of a Pacific Ocean circulation - 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
Fecal Coliform
a facultatively-anaerobic, rod-shaped, gram-negative, non-sporulating bacterium. Fecal coliforms are capable of growth in the presence of bile salts or similar surface agents, are oxidase negative, and produce acid and gas from lactose within 48 hours at 44 ± 0.5°C.[1]

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