Glossary of Physical Geography

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physical geography
the elements of it are natural in origin. It is sometimes called environmental geography. Elements: rocks, landforms, soil, flora, fauna, climate, water, minerals
cultural geography
the elements of it are those of human endeavor. It is sometimes called human geography. Elements: population, settlements, economic activites, transportation, recreation activites, languages, religion, political systems, traditions, and many others.
four principle components of the environment
lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere
the solid, inorganic portion of Earth. Comprising the rocks of Earths crust as well as the broken and unconsolidated particles of mineral matter that overlie the solid bedrock. The lithosphere's surface is shaped into an almost infinite variety of landforms, both on the seafloors and on the surfaces of the continents and the islands
the gaseous envelope of air that surrounds Earth. It contains the complex mixture of gases needed to sustain life. Most of the atmosphere adheres closely to Earth's surface, being densest at sea level and rapidly thinning with indreased altitude. It is a very dramatic sphere, kept in almost constant motion by solar energy and Earth's rotation
comprises water in all its forms. The oceans contain the vast majority of the water found on Earth and are the moisture source for most precipitation.
encompasses all the parts of Earth where living organisms can exist; in its broadest and loosest sense, the term also includes the vast variety of earthly life forms (properly refered to as biota).
The solar system. How many planets? moons? comets? asteroids? meteors?
nine planets, at least 64 moons revolving around the planets, scores of comets, more than 50,000 asteroids, and millions of meteors
what are comets
they are composed of frozen gases that hold together small pieces of rock and metallic minerals
what are asteroids
objects made of rock and/metal that are mostly very small, but with a few as large as seven hundred miles in diameter
how big are meteors?
most of them are the size of sand grains
what percent of the total mass of the solar system is made up by the sun?
99 percent of its total mass
Milky Way Galaxy
the solar system is part of the Milky Way Galaxy, which consists of perhaps 100,000,000,000 stars arranged in a disk-shaped cloud that is 100,000 light-years thick at the core
How many miles is a light-year?
1 light-year equals nearly 6 trillion miles
How many galaxys in the universe?
at least a billion
How many years ago did the big bang take place?
15 billion years ago
how the universe began
began with a cosmic explosion called the big bang, the result caused dispersal of all material of the exploding mass at enormous speeds
when did our solar system originate?
between 4.5 and 5 billion years ago
How did our solar system originate?
a nebula- huge, cold, diffuse cloud of gas and dust propelled through space by the big bang- began to contract inward, owing to its own gravitational collapse, forming a hot, dense protostar. This hot center- our sun- was surrounded by a cold, revolving disk of gas and dust that formed the planets.
The formation of the moons
these planetary satellites may have been formed elsewhere in the nebula. Their orbits around the sun then brought them close enough to the planets to be captured by mutual gravitational influence.
characteristics of the four inner planets
smaller, denser, and less oblate (i.e. more nearly spherical), rotate more slowly on thier axis. Composed principally of mineral matter and, except for airless Mercury, have diverse but relatively shallow atmospheres.
Characteristics of the five outer planets
tend to be much larger, at least 100 times more massive, less dense, and much more oblate, and they rotate more rapidly. they seems to be composed entirely of gases, principally hydrogen, which become liquid and then frozen toward the interior of the planets. Thier chemical composition is similar to that of the Sun, indicating that they were formed in a similar fashion. The outer planets generally have atmospheres that are dense and turbulent
which way does the sun rotate
from west to east
which way do the planets revolve around the sun
from west to east
which way do the planets rotate on thier own axis
from west to east
what happens when the planet's distance from the sun increases
planets move more slowly and ave a lower temperature as thier distance from the Sun increases
what size is the radius of our planet
4,000 miles
how high is the highest point on Earth
more than 29,000 feet above sea level
how big is the Earth's circumference
24,900 miles

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