cascade effect

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A sequence of events in which each produces the circumstances necessary for the initiation of the next.

1 In ecology, a succession in which the organisms present at one stage provide resources that are exploited by those at the next.

2 In geomorphology, the transfer of mass and energy through a chain of component subsystems, the output from one subsystem becoming the input for the next. An example is the valley glacier, where the inputs of snowfall and rock debris from the slopes above and potential energy (derived from elevation) are cascaded through a sequence of climatic environments with a progressive reduction in mass and dissipation of energy, the output from the glacier being sediment and water which form the input to the proglacial subsystem.

Subjects: Ecology and Conservation.

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