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A glossary of science-related words.

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warm front

The transition zone where a warm air mass is replacing a cold air mass. Moisture in warm air condenses as it hits the cold air, causing the formation of clouds. Precipitation is likely.

water column

The vertical section of water between the ocean floor and the surface.

water cycle

The continuous movement of water on, above and below the surface of the Earth (also known as the hydrological cycle).

water vapour

The gas phase of water.


Unit of power, equal to 1 joule of energy per second.


The distance between one peak or crest of a wave and the next peak or crest.


Chemical, mechanical (including freezing and thawing) and biological processes that break down rocks into smaller pieces. Weathering does not include the transport away of broken-down material.


Force due to gravity acting on an object, measured in newtons.


An area of land that is saturated with water, often referred to as a swamp or bog. Wetlands may be seasonally or permanently water-logged with vegetation adapted for life under those soil conditions.


Lineage or ancestory.


Extended family.


New Zealand mountain flax (Phormium cookianum).

white dwarf

A small, hot star – once like our Sun – now near the end of its life. A white dwarf has a similar mass to our Sun, but is about the size of Earth.


An uncontrolled, raging, rapidly spreading fire. It occurs in vegetation, bush, forest or peat.

wing loading

The loaded weight of an aircraft or weight of a bird divided by the total surface area of the wings.

wood chemist

A person that studies the chemical components of wood. Wood chemists look for new ways to use these chemicals and improve existing uses.