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Earth Observatory Glossary
(Starting with "U")



By NASA,
Program Manager: David Herring,
Responsible NASA official: Dr. Michael D. King,
U.S.A.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/glossary.php3?mode=all








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  ultraviolet radiation The energy range just beyond the violet end of the visible spectrum. Although ultraviolet radiation constitutes only about 5 percent of the total energy emitted from the sun, it is the major energy source for the stratosphere and mesosphere, playing a dominant role in both energy balance and chemical composition.

Most ultraviolet radiation is blocked by Earth's atmosphere, but some solar ultraviolet penetrates and aids in plant photosynthesis and helps produce vitamin D in humans. Too much ultraviolet radiation can burn the skin, cause skin cancer and cataracts, and damage vegetation.

   
  United States Geological Survey (USGS) A bureau of the Department of the Interior. USGS was established in 1879 following several Federally sponsored independent natural resource surveys of the West and Midwest. The Department of the Interior has responsibility for most of our nationally owned public lands and natural resources. The USGS monitors resources such as energy, minerals, water, land, agriculture, and irrigation. The resulting scientific information contributes to environmental-policy decision making and public safety. For example, USGS identifies flood- and landslide-prone areas and maintains maps of the United States.
   
  United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) The USGCRP addresses significant uncertainties concerning the natural and human-induced changes to Earth's environment. The USGCRP has a comprehensive and multidisciplinary scientific research agenda. See Global Change Research Program.
   
  updraft A relatively small-scale current of air with marked upward vertical motion.
   
  Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) UARS is part of a long-term, international program of space research into global atmospheric change. Beginning in 1991, NASA's UARS program began to carry out the first systematic, detailed satellite study of the Earth's stratosphere, mesosphere, and lower thermosphere; establish the comprehensive data base needed for an understanding of stratospheric ozone depletion; and bring together scientists and governments around the world to assess the role of human activities in atmospheric change. Launched on September 12, 1991, UARS became the first official space component of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise.
   
  upwelling The vertical motion of water in the ocean by which subsurface water of lower temperature and greater density moves toward the surface of the ocean. Upwelling occurs most commonly among the western coastlines of continents, but may occur anywhere in the ocean. Upwelling results when winds blowing nearly parallel to a continental coastline transport the light surface water away from the coast. Subsurface water of greater density and lower temperature replaces the surface water, and exerts a considerable influence on the weather of coastal regions. Carbon dioxide is transferred to the atmosphere in regions of upwelling. This is especially important in the Pacific equatorial regions, where 1-2 GtC/year may be released to the atmosphere. Upwelling also results in increased ocean productivity by transporting nutrient-rich waters to the surface layer of the ocean.




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