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Extreme Environments: unit vocabulary

This is an introduction to some of the most useful and interesting words you'll find in this unit. You probably know some of them already, while others might be new to you. Take some time to get to know them all before you get started!

Climate and environment

Climate is the weather in a place or area.
A place’s environment means everything that’s there, including nature and the weather.
Sample sentences: Polar bears are masters of their Arctic environment. They have thick fur to stay warm in the cold climate, and strong legs and jaws for hunting on the ice and in the sea.

Continent and region

A continent is a huge area of land, usually containing lots of different countries.
A region is an area—it can describe one part of a country, one part of a continent, or one part of the world.
Sample sentences: The Arctic region is the area around the North Pole. It contains parts of three different continents: Asia, Europe, and North America.

Evaporate, moisture, precipitation

These words have one thing in common: water!
Precipitation is any kind of water that falls from clouds, including rain, snow, and hail.
Moisture means a small amount of water that makes something feel wet.
Evaporate means to turn into gas or vapor. Water evaporates when it gets hot.
Sample sentences: This morning, the grass in my yard had a lot of moisture from last night’s precipitation. By lunchtime, the grass had dried out—the heat of the sun made all the rain evaporate.

Extreme, frigid, harsh, inhospitable, intense, severe, temperate

These are all great words to help describe weather or climates!
Extreme and intense are very close in meaning: they both mean very large, great, or strong.
Severe also means very great or strong, but in a bad way.
Harsh is another negative word: it means very tough or cruel.
If a place is inhospitable, that means it’s very hard for animals, people, or plants to live there.
Frigid means really, really cold.
Temperate is the odd one out in this group: it means weather that’s medium or mild: not too hot and not too cold; the opposite of extreme!
Here are some example sentences showing these words in action:
  • We’ve got some extreme weather coming our way: a thunderstorm and lots of rain!
  • The severe daytime heat in the desert is very dangerous, but at night the cold can be just as intense.
  • Emperor penguins live in very harsh conditions: they have to huddle together as a big group to stay alive during snowstorms.
  • Zinedine loved the beauty of the Arctic, but found that the frigid temperatures made it too inhospitable to stay for a long time. It was going to be a big relief to get back to the temperate weather in France.

Adapt, dwell, and inhabit

Adapting means changing to fit something, or getting used to something.
Inhabit and dwell both mean to live somewhere.
Sample sentence: Not many animals inhabit the desert, but those who do have adapted very well: for example, desert-dwelling camels can survive seven months without water!

Tilt and tilted

Tilt is both a noun and a verb. If something tilts, or has a tilt, that means it's leaning to one side.
If something leans or is slanted, you can also say that it’s tilted.
Sample sentences: Did you know that Earth is tilted? It leans to one side as it goes around the sun. The Earth’s tilt means that South America is closest to the sun in December, and furthest away from the sun in June. The opposite is true for North America! That’s why, in June, it’s summer in Canada but winter in Brazil.

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