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Geography -Glossary of Terms

Absolute humidity: The mass of water vapor in the atmosphere per unit of volume of space.

Accessibility: A locational characteristic that permits a place to be reached by the efforts of those at other places

Acid rain: Rain that has become more acidic than normal (a pH below 5.0) as certain oxides present as airborne pollutants are absorbed by the water droplets. The term is often applied generically to all acidic precipitation.

Aerosol: Fine liquid or solid particles suspended in the atmosphere. Aerosols resulting from volcanic eruptions are tiny droplets of sulfuric acid—sulfur dioxide that has picked up oxygen and water.

Active volcano: A volcano that is currently erupting, or has erupted during recorded history

Altitude: Height of an object in the atmosphere above sea level.

Alluvia: Clay, silt, gravel, or similar detrital material deposited by running water.

Alluvial soils: Soils deposited through the action of moving water. These soils lack horizons and are usually highly fertile.

Atmosphere: The mixture of gases, aerosols, solid particles, and water vapor that envelops the Earth.

Atlas: A bound collection of maps

Ash: Fragments less than (about 1/8 inch) in diameter of lava or rock blasted into the air by volcanic explosions.

Archipelago: A collection of islands in a sea.

Base level: The lowest level to which a stream can erode its bed. The ultimate base level of all streams is, of course, the sea.

Bay: A 3/4 bowl shaped body water almost fully enclosed by land yet allowing water to flow.

Biological diversity: A concept recognizing the variety of life forms in an area of the Earth and the ecological interdependence of these life forms.

Biosphere: The realm of all living things.

Beach: A landform along the shoreline of an ocean, sea, lake, or river with a loose surface of sand, gravel, shingle, pebbles, shells, stones or coral.

Batholith: A very large body of igneous rock, usually granite, which has been exposed by erosion of the overlying rock.

Biota: The animal and plant life of a region considered as a total ecological entity.

Bituminous: A soft coal that, when heated, yields considerable volatile matter.

Canal: An artificial navigation channel.

Cartographer: A person who draws or makes maps or charts.

Cape: A headland or promontory of large size extending into a body of water, usually the sea.

Chaparral: A dense, impenetrable thicket of shrubs or dwarf trees.

Chinook: A warm, dry wind experienced along the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. Most common in winter and spring, it can result in a rise in temperature of 20 °C (35 to 40 °F) in a quarter of an hour.

Cinder cone: A steep-sided volcano formed by the explosive eruption of cinders that form around a vent. Cinders are lava fragments about 1 centimeter (about ½ inch) in diameter.

Coniferous: Bearing cones; from the conifer family.

Continent: One of the large, continuous areas of the Earth into which the land surface is divided.

Continental climate: The type of climate found in the interior of the major continents in the middle, or temperate, latitudes. The climate is characterized by a great seasonal variation in temperatures, four distinct seasons, and a relatively small annual precipitation.

Contour lines: Parallel lines used on topographic maps to show the shape and elevation of the land. They connect points of equal elevation.

Crater: The circular depression containing a volcanic vent.

Crust: The Earth’s outermost layer.

Cryosphere: The ice and snow on the Earth’s surface, such as glaciers; sea, lake, and river ice; snow; and permafrost

Deciduous forest: Forests in which the trees lose their leaves each year.

Degree: A unit of angular measure: A circle is divided into 360 degrees, represented by the º symbol. Degrees are used to divide the roughly spherical shape of the Earth for geographic and cartographic purposes

Delta: In Geography, a delta is a land form that is formed at the mouth of a river where the mainstream splits up into several distributaries. It is formed from the deposition of the sediment carried by the river as the flow leaves the mouth of the river.

Demography: The systematic analysis of population.

Dormant volcano: An active volcano that is in repose (quiescence) but is expected to erupt in the future.

Dry farming: A type of farming practiced in semi-arid or dry grassland areas without irrigation using such approaches as fallowing, maintaining a finely broken surface, and growing drought-tolerant crops

Elevation: The height of a point on the Earth’s surface with respect to sea level.

Equator: An imaginary circle around the Earth halfway between the North Pole and the South Pole; the largest circumference of the Earth.

Estuary: The broad lower course of a river that is encroached on by the sea and affected by the tides.

Extinct volcano: A volcano that is not expected to erupt again.

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