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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...
The sky (or celestial dome) is everything that lies above the surface of the Earth, including the atmosphere and outer space. In the field of astronomy, the sky is also called the celestial sphere. This is viewed from Earth's surface as an imaginary dome where the sun, stars, planets, and the moon are seen to be traveling. The celestial sphere is conventionally divided into regions called constellations. Usually, the term sky is used informally as the point of view from the Earth's surface; however, the meaning and usage can vary. In some cases, such as in discussing the weather, the sky refers to only the lower, more dense portions of the atmosphere. During daylight, the sky appears to be blue because air scatters blue sunlight more than it scatters red. At night, the sky appears to be a mostly dark surface or region scattered with stars. During the day, the Sun can be seen in the sky unless obscured by clouds. In the night sky (and to some extent during the day) the moon, p...
Nature, in the broadest sense, is equivalent to the natural, physical, or material world or universe. "Nature" refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. It ranges in scale from the subatomic to the cosmic. The study of nature is science. The word nature is derived from the Latin word natura, or "essential qualities, innate disposition", and in ancient times, literally meant "birth". Natura was a Latin translation of the Greek word physis (φύσις), which originally related to the intrinsic characteristics that plants, animals, and other features of the world develop of their own accord. The concept of nature as a whole, the physical universe, is one of several expansions of the original notion; it began with certain core applications of the word φύσις by pre-Socratic philosophers, and has steadily gained currency ever since. This usage continued during the advent of modern scientific method in the last several centuries. Within the various uses...
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...
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...
In botany, a tree is a perennial plant with an elongated stem, or trunk, supporting branches and leaves in most species. In some usages, the definition of a tree may be narrower, including only woody plants with secondary growth, plants that are usable as lumber or plants above a specified height. In looser senses, the taller palms, the tree ferns, bananas and bamboos are also trees. Trees tend to be long-lived, some reaching several thousand years old. The tallest known tree, a coast redwood named Hyperion, stands 115.6 m (379 ft) high. Trees have been in existence on the Earth for 370 million years. Trees are not a taxonomic group but include a variety of plant species that have independently evolved a woody trunk and branches as a way to tower above other plants to compete for sunlight. A tree typically has many secondary branches supported clear of the ground by the trunk. This trunk typically contains woody tissue for strength, and vascular tissue to carry materials from...
Red is the color at the end of the spectrum of visible light next to orange and opposite violet. It is evoked by light with a predominant wavelength of roughly 620–740 nm. Red is one of the additive primary colors of light, along with green and blue, which in RGB color systems are combined to create all the colors on a computer monitor or television screen. It is also one of the subtractive primary colors, along with yellow and blue, of the RYB color space and traditional color wheel used by painters and artists. Reds can vary in shade from very light pink to very dark maroon or burgundy; and in hue from the bright orange-red scarlet or vermilion to the bluish-red crimson. Red was widely used in prehistoric cave art, made with red hematite or iron oxide, or red ochre. Early civilizations in China, the Middle East and Europe made red dyes from the madder plant or from the a tiny insect called the kermes vermilio, Civilizations in the Americas made brilliant reds from another s...