# Earth System Science Vocabularies Part I:

General Science Topics, Processes and Concepts

## States of Matter

Forms of matter as solid, liquid or vapor, differing in their observable physical properties

### Processes that Alter States of Matter

- condensation
- Process by which a vapor becomes liquid or solid
- chemical fractionation
- Compositional differentiation via numerous chemical processes
- phase transformations
- Change of a crystal from one polymorph to another
- melt(ing)
- Transformation from a solid to a liquid state
- crystallization
- Transformation from a liquid or vapor to a solid state
- dehydration
- A (metamorphic) reaction that results in the transfer of H2O to the fluid phase
- metamorphism
- Mineralogical, chemical and textural adjustment of solid rocks to physical and chemical conditions
- weathering
- Physical disintegration or chemical decomposition of rock
- solution
- A homogeneous mixture of two or more components in a single phase, often refers specifically to a solution in water (an aqueous solution); a process of chemical weathering by which rock and mineral material passes into solution
- precipitation
- The formation of an insoluble solid by a reaction which occurs in solution

## Chemistry: topics and concepts

- inorganic chemistry
- Study of compounds that contain no carbon
- crystallography
- Study of crystals, their growth, structure, and physical properties
- analytical chemistry
- Characterization of the composition, structure and properties of materials
- organic chemistry
- The study of carbon-containing compounds, typically containing carbon-carbon bonds
- biochemistry
- The study of the chemistry of living systems
- physical chemistry
- Encompassing thermodynamics, quantum chemistry, and chemical kinetics
- thermodynamics
- A set of laws that predicts the equilibrium configuration of a system and how it will change if its environmental parameters are changed
- entropy
- A measure of the extent to which the energy of a system is available for conversion to work
- enthalpy
- H=E + PV (E=internal energy of a system and PV are pressure and volume respectively); -of a reaction is the heat evolved or absorbed in a reaction at constant pressure
- intensive parameter
- A property that is independent of the amount of a material, e.g. density
- extensive parameter
- A property that is dependent of the amount of material, e.g. mass or volume
- pressure
- A measure of force exerted on a unit area
- temperature
- The condition of a body that determines the transfer of heat to or from another body
- First Law of Thermodynamics
- A statement of the conservation of energy; heat absorbed by a system must either raise the internal energy of the system or do work on the environment
- Second Law of Thermodynamics
- Heat can never pass spontaneously from a body at a lower temperature to one at a higher temperature
- Gibbs free energy
- A function of state that is reversible during a reversible isobaric-isothermal reaction
- heat capacity
- Quantity of heat needed to raise one unit mass of a substance one degree Celsius
- calorimetry
- Measurement of thermal constants of a substance
- activity or fugacity
- Thermodynamic partial pressure of a component; the ideal thermodynamic concentration of a substance which permits the application of the law of mass action
- phase equilibria
- Chemical reactions among multiple phases
- exothermic reactions
- Chemical reactions that liberate heat
- endothermic reactions
- Chemical reactions that consume heat
- adiabatic reactions
- A process that occurs without gain or loss of heat to or from the system
- reversible reactions
- A reaction that can be forced to occur in either direction by variation of pressure, temperature, volume or quantity of reacting substances
- irreversible reactions
- A reaction that takes place in one direction only, and therefore proceeds to completion
- kinetics
- The study of rates at which chemical reactions proceed
- statistical mechanics
- Theoretical predictions of the behavior of a microscopic system based on application of statistical laws to the behavior of component particles

## Physics: topics and concepts

### Mechanical Transfer of Heat and Mass

- convection
- Transfer of heat in a fluid by the circulation flow due to temperature differences (resulting in density differences)
- conduction
- Transfer of heat controlled by thermal conductivity of materials, related to heat flux and temperature gradient
- radioactive decay
- Spontaneous emission of particles (alpha or beta) or gamma rays from the unstable nucleus of a nuclide; results in the generation of heat
- kinetic energy/friction
- Energy arising from motion; resistance to motion

**Heat Source**

### Electro-Magnetic Properties

- magnetic field
- Forces related to magnetic poles; associated with electric currents and the motions of electrons in atoms
- electrical conductivity
- Measure of the ease with which a conduction current can be caused to flow through a material under the influence of an applied electric field; reciprocal of resistivity

### Gravitational

- accretion
- Process whereby small particles and gases in the solar nebula come together to form larger bodies, eventually of planetary size
- impact
- A collision of two planetary bodies at or near cosmic velocity
- orbital/precession
- Change in the direction of axis of rotation; westward motion of the equinoxes caused mainly by the gravitational attraction of the sun and moon on the equatorial bulge of the earth
- Kepler's laws of planetary motion
- 1. The planets describe ellipses with the sun at a focus. 2. The line from the sun to any planet describes equal areas in equal times. 3. The squares of the periodic times of the planets are proportional to the cubes of their mean distances from the sun.
- tides
- Rhythmic, alternate rise and fall of a surface (water, land) resulting from gravitational attraction
- isostasy (bouyancy)
- Condition of equilibrium, similar to floating, of the components of the lithosphere above the aesthenosphere

### Mechanics

- kinematics
- Study of the way in which velocities and accelerations of various parts of a moving system are related
- momentum
- A dynamical quantity, conserved in a closed system, defined as the product of mass and velocity; linear and angular momentum
- oscillation (vibration)
- Any motion that repeats itself in equal intervals of time; periodic motion.
- translation
- Uniform movement in one dimension, without rotation
- rotation
- Circular turning of a body about an axis
- rigid body dynamics
- Deforming (solid) body suffers no distortion, dilation or rotation
- fluid dynamics
- Study of motion in fluids

### Dynamic Properties and Processes

- viscosity
- Property of a substance to offer internal resistance to flow
- rheology
- Study of the deformation and flow of mater
- diffusion
- Flow of material from regions of high to low concentration; proportional to concentration gradient
- infiltration
- Flow of a fluid into a solid substance; driven by pressure gradient
- Principle of Relativity
- The observed value of the velocity of light is constant and is independent of the motion (frame of reference) of the observer

### Waves

- transverse
- Particle motion is perpendicular to the direction of propagation of the wave (S or shear wave)
- longitudinal
- Particle motion is in the direction of propagation of the wave (P or primary wave, compressional)
- standing
- A water wave, the form of which oscillates vertically between two nodes without progressive movement
- sound
- Acoustic waves, longitudinal motion; compressional
- refraction
- Deflection of a wave due to its passage from one medium to another of differing density; changes the velocity
- reflection
- The return of a wave incident upon a surface to its original medium
- diffraction
- Phenomena observed when waves are obstructed by obstacles or apertures, the disturbance spreads beyond the limits of the geometrical shadow of the object.
- scattering
- Irregular reflection or dispersal of waves or particles
- interference
- Interaction between two or more waves
- optics
- The study of light and its wave properties

### Quantum Mechanics

- quantum theory
- electromagnetic radiation is emitted and adsorbed in discrete quanta, each of magnitude hv where h is Planck's constant and v is the frequency of the radiation; encompasses black body radiation, photoelectric effect, Compton effect and Bohr theory of the atom
- Schrodinger equation
- fundamental equation of wave mechanics; expresses the probability density for a particle or set of particles.
- uncertainty principle
- There is a fundamental limit to the precision with which a position coordinate of a particle and its momentum in that direction can be simultaneously known

## Biology: topics and concepts

- cellular biology
- Study of life at the cellular level
- botany
- Study of plant life forms
- zoology
- Study of animal life forms
- ecology
- The study of the interrelations between living organisms and their environment, including both the physical and biotic factors.
- genetics
- Study of heredity, how differences between individuals are transmitted from one generation to the next, and how the information in the genes is used in the development of functioning of the adult organism.
- anatomy/physiology
- Study of the form and function of plants and animals. Physiology - the study of the relation between structure and function.
- taxonomy
- Classification applied to living organisms
- evolution
- Changes in the genetic composition of a population during successive generations; the gradual development of more complex organisms from simpler ones
- adaptation
- Any morphological, physiological or behavioural characteristic which fits an organism to the conditions under which it lives; the genetic or developmental processes by which such characteristics arise
- adaptive radiation
- Evolutionary diversification of species from a common ancestral stock, filling available ecological niches
- mutation
- A change, spontaneous or induced, that converts one allele into another; any change of a gene or of chromosomal structure or number
- natural selection
- Evolutionary theory which postulates the survival of the best adapted forms, with inheritance of those characteristics wherein their fitness lies, and which arise as random variations due to mutation

## Mathematics: topics, concepts and skills

### Topics

- arithmetic
- Science of numbers, including processes such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and the extraction of roots
- algebra
- Investigation of the properties of number by means of symbols; solving of equations, summation of series, permutations and combinations, matrices, and sets
- geometry
- Concerned with the properties of lines, curves and surfaces; divided into pure, algebraic and differential geometry
- trigonometry
- Relations among the sides and angles of triangles
- differential calculus
- Dealing with continuously varying quantities; based on the derivative of one quantity with respect to another of which it is a function (inverse of integral calculus).
- integral calculus
- Purpose is to find the value of a function of a variable when its derivative is known; integration is used in the solution of such problems as finding the area enclosed by a given curve. (inverse of differential calculus)
- tensor
- The generalization of a vector; a mathematical entity specifiable by a set of components with respect to a system of coordinates
- non-linear systems
- Mathematical representation of which the result of an action is not necessarily proportional to its cause
- chaos
- Encompasses principles related to e.g., self-organization, sensitive dependence on initial conditions, strange attractors
- fractals
- A shape made of parts similar to the whole in some way; includes concepts of fractal dimensions, similarity and scaling

### Quantitative Skills

- computation
- To determine by mathematical means; calculate.
- estimation
- To judge approximately; to determine roughly the size, extent or nature.
- quantities
- Including e.g. units of measure, dimensions, orders of magnitude
- measurement
- Amount, degree, dimensions, capacity of something as determined by comparison to a standard
- error and uncertainty
- Difference between measured and actual values; and indefinite, indeterminate
- probability
- Mathematical basis of a prediction; ratio of the outcomes that could produce an event to the total number of possible outcomes
- statistics
- Numerical quantity calculated from a set of observations
- graphs
- A diagram that represents the variation of a variable in comparison with that of one or more other variables
- tables
- Systematic arrangement of data in rows and columns
- formulae
- A group of numerical symbols associated to express a single concept or principle
- schematics
- A diagrammatic representation.
- modeling/visualization
- A description or analogy used to help visualize something that cannot be directly observed; a system of postulates, data, and inferences presented as a mathematical description of an entity
- equations as language
- Using equations to describe natural phenomena

**Representation**