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In geology, rock is a naturally occurring solid aggregate of one or more minerals or mineraloids. For example, the common rock granite is a combination of the quartz, feldspar and biotite minerals. The Earth's outer solid layer, the lithosphere, is made of rock. Rocks have been used by mankind throughout history. From the Stone Age rocks have been used for tools. The minerals and metals found in rocks have been essential to human civilization. Three major groups of rocks are defined: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic. The scientific study of rocks is called petrology, which is an essential component of geology.
A lake (in Scotland and Ireland they can be called a loch) is an area (prototypically filled with water, also of variable size), localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie on land and are not part of the ocean, and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are also larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams, which are usually flowing. However most lakes are fed and drained by rivers and streams. Natural lakes are generally found in mountainous areas, rift zones, and areas with ongoing glaciation. Other lakes are found in endorheic basins or along the courses of mature rivers. In some parts of the world there are many lakes because of chaotic drainage patterns left over from the last Ice Age. All lakes are temporary over geologic time scales, as they will slowly fill in with sediments or spill out of the basin containing them. Many lakes are artificial a...
In meteorology, a cloud is a visible mass of liquid droplets or frozen crystals made of water or various chemicals suspended in the atmosphere above the surface of a planetary body. These suspended particles are also known as aerosols and are studied in the cloud physics branch of meteorology. Terrestrial cloud formation is the result of air in any of the lower three principal layers of Earth's atmosphere (collectively known as the homosphere) becoming saturated due to either or both of two processes: cooling of the air and adding water vapor. With sufficient saturation in the troposphere, precipitation will fall to the surface; an exception is virga, which evaporates before reaching the surface. Clouds that form at very high altitudes in the stratosphere and mesosphere do not contain sufficient moisture to generate any outfall of droplets or crystals. Clouds in the troposphere, the atmospheric layer closest to Earth's surface, have Latin names due to the universal adaptation...
A mountain is a large landform that stretches above the surrounding land in a limited area, usually in the form of a peak. A mountain is generally steeper than a hill. Mountains are formed through tectonic forces or volcanism. These forces can locally raise the surface of the earth. Mountains erode slowly through the action of rivers, weather conditions, and glaciers. A few mountains are isolated summits, but most occur in huge mountain ranges. High elevations on mountains produce colder climates than at sea level. These colder climates strongly affect the ecosystem of mountains: different elevations have different plants and animals. Because of the less hospitable terrain and climate, mountains tend to be used less for agriculture and more for resource extraction and recreation, such as mountain climbing. The highest mountain on Earth is Mount Everest in the Himalayas of Asia, whose summit is 8,850 m (29,035 ft) above mean sea level. The highest known mountain on any planet ...
A forest is a large area of land covered with trees or other woody vegetation. Hundreds of more precise definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological function. According to the widely-used United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization definition, forests covered an area of four billion hectares (15 million square miles) or approximately 30 percent of the world's land area in 2006. Forests are the dominant terrestrial ecosystem on Earth, and are distributed across the globe. Forests account for 75% of the gross primary productivity of the Earth's biosphere, and contain 80% of the Earth's plant biomass. Forests at different latitudes form distinctly different ecozones: boreal forests near the poles tend to consist of evergreens, while tropical forests near the equator tend to be distinct from the temperate forests at mid-latitude. The amount of precipitation and the elevat...