See under (def 3).
the removal, especially of organs, abnormal growths, or harmful substances, from the body by mechanical means, as by surgery.
the reduction in volume of glacial ice, snow, or névé by the combined processes of melting, evaporation, and calving.
Compare (def 3).
Aerospace. erosion of the protective outer surface (ablator) of a spacecraft or missile due to the aerodynamic heating caused by travel at hypersonic speed during reentry through the atmosphere.
the heat shield of a space vehicle, which melts or wears away during re-entry into the earth’s atmosphere
the surgical removal of an organ, structure, or part
the melting or wearing away of an expendable part, such as the heat shield of a space re-entry vehicle on passing through the earth’s atmosphere
the wearing away of a rock or glacier

early 15c., from Latin ablationem (nominative ablatio), “a taking away,” noun of action from past participle stem of auferre “to carry away,” from ab- “off” (see ab-) + ferre (past participle latum; see oblate) “to bear.”

ablation ab·la·tion (ā-blā’shən)
Removal of a body part or the destruction of its function, as by a surgery, disease, or noxious substance.

The wearing away or destruction of the outer or forward surface of an object, such as a meteorite or a spacecraft, as it moves very rapidly through the atmosphere. The friction of the air striking the object heats and often melts or burns its outer layers. Spacecraft and missiles are often equipped with heat shields designed to wear away by ablation in order to prevent heat from building up in structurally important parts.

The process by which snow and ice are removed from a glacier or other mass of ice. Ablation typically occurs through melting, sublimation, wind erosion, or calving. ◇ The ablation zone is the area of a glacier that has the lowest elevation, where annual water loss is greater than the annual accumulation of snow.


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