A World of Words: Physical Geography - Introductory

Physical geography will be a breeze once you master this list of terms related to Earth's physical features. You'll review climate and weather, landforms and bodies of water, biomes and ecosystems, and the geological structure of the Earth — and that's just the tip of the iceberg!
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. acid rain
    precipitation with toxic gas emissions combined with water
  2. aquifer
    underground layer of rock or sand that yields groundwater
  3. archipelago
    a group of many islands in a large body of water
  4. arid
    lacking sufficient water or rainfall
  5. atmosphere
    the mass of air surrounding the Earth
  6. barometer
    an instrument that measures atmospheric pressure
  7. bay
    an indentation of a shoreline smaller than a gulf
  8. bedrock
    solid unweathered stone beneath surface deposits of soil
  9. biome
    major ecological community with distinct climate and flora
  10. canyon
    a ravine formed by a river in an area with little rainfall
  11. cavern
    a large cave or a large chamber in a cave
  12. channel
    a deep and relatively narrow body of water
  13. cirrus cloud
    a wispy white cloud at a high altitude
  14. clay
    water-soaked soil; soft, wet earth
  15. cliff
    a steep high face of rock
  16. climate
    the weather in some location averaged over a period of time
  17. cold front
    the front of an advancing mass of colder air
  18. condensation
    atmospheric moisture that has changed from a gas
  19. continent
    one of the large landmasses of the earth
  20. continental drift
    the gradual movement of very large land masses
  21. core
    the central part of the Earth
  22. crater
    a bowl-shaped geological formation at the top of a volcano
  23. crust
    the outer layer of the Earth
  24. cumulus cloud
    a globular cloud
  25. current
    a steady flow of a fluid or gas
  26. cyclone
    an atmospheric system in which air circulates rapidly
  27. delta
    a low area of alluvial deposits where a river divides
  28. desert
    arid land with little or no vegetation
  29. desertification
    a gradual transformation into arid, uninhabitable land
  30. dune
    a ridge of sand created by the wind
  31. earthquake
    vibration from underground movement along a fault plane
  32. ecosystem
    organisms interacting with their physical environment
  33. equator
    an imaginary line around the Earth forming a great circle
  34. erosion
    condition in which the earth's surface is worn away
  35. estuary
    the wide part of a river where it nears the sea
  36. evaporation
    the process of becoming a suspension of particles in the air
  37. eye
    an area that is approximately central within some larger region
  38. fault line
    (geology) line determined by the intersection of a geological fault and the earth's surface
  39. fauna
    all the animal life in a particular region or period
  40. flora
    all the plant life in a particular region or period
  41. fog
    droplets of water vapor suspended in the air near the ground
  42. food chain
    community of organisms where each member is eaten by another
  43. forecast
    a prediction about how something will develop
  44. front
    phenomenon at the boundary between two different air masses
  45. geyser
    a spring that discharges hot water and steam
  46. glacier
    a slowly moving mass of ice
  47. global warming
    a rise in the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere
  48. gorge
    a deep ravine, usually with a river running through it
  49. hail
    precipitation of ice pellets
  50. humidity
    wetness in the atmosphere
  51. hurricane
    a severe tropical cyclone usually with heavy rains and winds
  52. iceberg
    a large frozen mass floating at sea
  53. island
    a land mass that is surrounded by water
  54. isthmus
    a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas
  55. lagoon
    a body of water cut off from a larger body by a reef
  56. lake
    a body of (usually fresh) water surrounded by land
  57. landslide
    the descent of a large mass of dirt and rock down a slope
  58. latitude
    an imaginary line around the Earth parallel to the equator
  59. lava
    rock that in its molten form issues from volcanos
  60. lightning
    flash of light from an electric discharge in the atmosphere
  61. longitude
    the angular distance from the prime meridian at Greenwich
  62. magma
    molten rock in the earth's crust
  63. magnitude
    the property of relative size or extent
  64. mantle
    the layer of the earth between the crust and the core
  65. marsh
    low-lying wet land with grassy vegetation
  66. meridian
    an imaginary great circle on the surface of the earth
  67. mesa
    flat tableland with steep edges
  68. meteorology
    the earth science dealing with phenomena of the atmosphere
  69. mineral
    a solid inorganic substance occurring in nature
  70. monsoon
    rainy season in southern Asia
  71. mountain
    a land mass that projects well above its surroundings
  72. natural resource
    material in the environment that can be used by people
  73. nimbus cloud
    a dark grey cloud bearing rain
  74. oasis
    a fertile tract in a desert
  75. ocean
    a large body of water that is part of the hydrosphere
  76. ozone layer
    a layer in the stratosphere (at approximately 20 miles) that contains a concentration of ozone sufficient to block most ultraviolet radiation from the sun
  77. peninsula
    a large mass of land projecting into a body of water
  78. permafrost
    ground that is permanently frozen
  79. physical geography
    the study of physical features of the earth's surface
  80. plain
    an extensive tract of level, open land
  81. plankton
    aggregate of small organisms that float or drift in water
  82. plate tectonics
    the movement or study of the movement of Earth's crust
  83. plateau
    a relatively flat raised area of land
  84. prairie
    a treeless grassy plain
  85. precipitation
    the falling to earth of any form of water
  86. rain
    water falling in drops from vapor in the atmosphere
  87. rainforest
    a densely wooded tropical area with heavy precipitation
  88. reef
    a submerged ridge of rock or coral near the water's surface
  89. river
    a large natural stream of water (larger than a creek)
  90. runoff
    the occurrence of surplus liquid exceeding capacity
  91. savanna
    a flat grassland in tropical or subtropical regions
  92. sea
    a large body of salt water partially enclosed by land
  93. sediment
    matter that has been deposited by some natural process
  94. silt
    mud or clay or small rocks deposited by a river or lake
  95. sleet
    precipitation consisting of a mixture of rain and snow
  96. snow
    precipitation falling from clouds in the form of ice crystals
  97. sod
    surface layer of ground containing a mat of grass and roots
  98. soil
    material in the top layer of the surface of the earth
  99. sound
    narrow channel of the sea joining two larger bodies of water
  100. spring
    a natural flow of ground water
  101. stalactite
    a cylinder of calcium carbonate hanging from a cave roof
  102. stalagmite
    a cylinder of calcium carbonate projecting from a cave floor
  103. strait
    a narrow channel joining two larger bodies of water
  104. stratum
    one of several parallel layers of material
  105. swamp
    low land that is seasonally flooded
  106. temperature
    the degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment
  107. terrain
    a piece of ground having specific characteristics
  108. thermometer
    measuring instrument for measuring temperature
  109. thunderstorm
    a storm resulting from strong rising air currents
  110. thunder
    a booming or crashing noise along the path of lightning
  111. tide
    the periodic rise and fall of the sea level
  112. tornado
    a violently destructive windstorm occurring over land
  113. tributary
    a branch that flows into the main stream
  114. tsunami
    a cataclysm resulting from a destructive sea wave
  115. tundra
    a vast treeless plain where subsoil is permanently frozen
  116. typhoon
    a tropical cyclone in the western Pacific or Indian oceans
  117. valley
    a long depression in the surface of the land
  118. vegetation
    all the plant life in a particular region or period
  119. volcano
    a fissure in the earth's crust through which gases erupt
  120. waterfall
    a steep descent of the water of a river
  121. weather
    atmospheric conditions such as temperature and precipitation
  122. wind
    air moving from high pressure to low pressure
  123. wind vane
    mechanical device attached to an elevated structure
Created on March 4, 2017 (updated August 2, 2017)

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