Land, Water, & Human Interaction Unit

  • Land, Water, & Human Interaction

Land, Water, and Human Interaction Unit


absorb: To take in or soak up. 


advantage: A property that in your opinion, is favorable.


altitude: The elevation of a location above (or below) sea level.


analysis (of experimental results):Making connections between the results of an experiment and the idea or question being investigated.


atmosphere: The mixture of gases (“air”) that surrounds a planet.


biodiversity: The variety of life at every level, from genes to species to ecosystems.


carbon dioxide: A waste produced from the breakdown of sugars during cellular respiration. Carbon dioxide gas in the atmosphere is essential for photosynthesis.


causal relationship: A relationship in which one factor causes an effect to the other factor. The first event is the cause and the result is the effect. 


climate change: The climate of an area can change over time. Scientists are studying climate change related to global warming. 


climatologist: A scientist who studies Earth’s climates.


condensing: The process of a gas (such as water vapor) losing heat energy to become a liquid (such as water). 


constraint: In engineering design, something that limits the solution to a problem.

constructive process (earth science): Any earth process that builds up earth material, such as the deposition of sediments in a delta. 


contaminant: Any physical, chemical, or biological substance in water. 


contour interval: The interval between lines on a topographic map that differ from each other by the same amount of elevation. 


contour line: A line on a topographic map that represents a specific elevation relative to sea level. 


control: A standard of comparison for checking or verifying the results of an experiment. The results of the experiment are compared with the control in order to see if the variable changed in the experiment caused any effect.


controlled variable: A variable in an investigation or experiment that is held constant.


correlation: A measure of how well one set of data relates to another. 


criteria or criterion: A minimum requirement for how the design must function, data Information gathered from an experiment or observations.


dead zone: A near-shore area of water with little or no dissolved oxygen and, therefore, very few organisms.


delta: A fan-shaped landform that develops where sediments are deposited in one area as a result of flowing water, such as a stream or river, entering still water, such as a lake or ocean. 


dependent variable: The observed phenomenon that is being measured.


deposition: Sediments that settle out of the flowing water, ice, or winds and drop to the ground due to slowing water. 


design: To develop a plan for a product or structure.


destructive process (earth science): Any earth process that breaks down earth material, such as water eroding a hillside.


material: such as water eroding a hillside. 


disadvantage: A property that, in your opinion, is not favorable. 


dissolve (earth science): To mix the particles of one substance evenly into the particles of another substance.

ecologist: A scientist who studies ecology.ecology The study of the relationships of organisms to one another and to the physical environment.


ecosystem: All of the living and nonliving components, and all of the interactions among them.


energy: The ability to cause objects to change, move or work.

engineer: Someone who uses science and tools to build a product that solves a practical problem. 


engineering design process: A series of steps that engineers follow to come up with a solution to a problem. 


erosion: The removal of sediments from an area. Common causes of erosion are gravity and moving water, wind, and ice. 


evaporating: The process of a liquid (such as water) gaining heat energy to become a gas (such as water vapor).


evidence: Information that supports or refutes a claim.


freezing: the process of a liquid (such as water) losing heat energy to become a solid (such as ice).


global warming: The gradual warming of Earth’s average surface temperature. Evidence indicates a relationship between human activity and the current global warming event. greenhouse gas.


gram (g): A unit of mass in the metric system; 1 gram is equal to 1,000 milligrams.


greenhouse gas: A gas that traps thermal energy in the atmosphere. Examples include carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane. Evidence indicates that human activity has increased the concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere. 


groundwater: Water that is found underground in spaces and cracks in the earth. 


habitat: A location in an environment where an organism lives.

human impact: The effect on living organisms and their nonliving environment due to human activity.


hydrologist: A scientist who studies the distribution and movement of Earth’s water.


hypotheses: A possible explanation for observations, facts, or events that may be tested by further investigation.


independent variable The controlled variable in an experiment.


indicator: Any visible sign that shows the condition of the system being studied.


infer: To conclude by reasoning from known facts. 


Inference: A conclusion based on observations or what is already known. See infer.


interpret: To explain or give an account of facts with regard to the explainer’s conception of what the facts mean.


liter (L): A unit of volume in the metric system; 1 liter is equal to 1,000 milliliters.


macroinvertebrates: Animals without backbones that are large enough to see without magnification.


mass: The amount of matter in an object.

matter: The stuff that makes up all living and nonliving objects. 


melting: The process of a solid (such as ice) gaining heat energy to become a liquid (such as water).


meteorologist: A scientist who studies weather.


meter (m) A unit of length in the metric system; 1 meter is equal to 100 centimeters or 1,000 millimeters.


metric system: The worldwide measuring system used by scientists. Also known as the International System of Units (SI).

mitigate: To lessen the impact of something.


mitigation: The process of lessening the impact of something. See mitigate. 


model: Any representation of a system (or its components) used to help one understand and communicate how it works.


monitor: To measure and keep track of something.


nutrients: Chemicals that an organism takes in from its environment to use as a source of energy or as building blocks for growth.


observation: Any description or measurement gathered by the senses or instruments.


optimize: To make better or as good as you can.


pattern: Something that happens in a repeated and predictable way.


population: A group of organisms of the same species living in the same habitat.


precipitation: Any form of water that falls to Earth, including rain, snow, sleet, and hail.


prototype: An early sample of a product that provides information about how the device or system works.


risk: The chance that an action or event could result in something unfavor-able happening, such as injury. 


risk assessment: The breaking down of various events or actions to see the amount and type of risk involved. Sometimes called “risk analysis” or “risk comparison.”


risk management: A group or individual’s change of behavior, lifestyle, or both to reduce the amount of risk involved in a situation, action, or event.


runoff: Excess rainfall, melted snow, or irrigation water that flows across the ground.

scientific model: Any representation of a system (or its components) used to help one understand and communicate how it works. 


scientist: Someone who pursues understanding of the natural world by using evidence to answer 


sediments: Small pieces of earth materials such as rocks, shells, and other debris.


Solvent: A substance that dissolves other substances.


technology: Any product or process made by engineers and scientists.


topographic: map A flat, two-dimensional map that is a model of the actual three-dimensional shape of a land surface.


topography: The shape of the land with its various elevations in an area.


trade-off: A desirable outcome given up to gain another desirable outcome. 


transpiration: The process of water evaporating from plant leaves.


volume: The amount of space that an object or substance occupies.


water cycle: The movement of water through the air and land.


water quality: A measure of the condition of the water based on its characteristics. 


weathering: An earth process that breaks down rocks into smaller pieces.  Rocks crack, crumble, and are broken apart by water and wind over time.


weight: The vertical force exerted by a mass as a result of gravity.

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