Climate Change Glossary

The Climate Change Glossary will provide you with all the important terms you need to know regarding climate change.

Although called the glossary, this page also acts as a mini encyclopedia for this website and can be considered as such.

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A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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Climate Change Glossary

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Latest Additions to the Glossary

Ocean Acidification Definition 
Ocean acidification refers to the increase in acidity of sea water due to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide . Essentially, not all of the …

Biomass Definition 
Biomass is a renewable energy source that consists of organic materials. These organic materials can be either living or dead, below or above ground. …

Biofuel Definition 
Biofuel is essentially a liquid or gas fuel made from biomass . There are many types of biofuels including: agricultural waste ethanol blended …

Desertification Definition 
Desertification is the degradation of land that could be used for agriculture or habitats, and is one of the most important environmental problems we are …

Carbon Footprint Definition 
The carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas emissions we individually cause. Often, when considering someone's carbon footprint, it …

Haboob Definition Not rated yet
A haboob is a type of intense dust storm that is carried by an atmospheric gravity current. Haboobs occur regularly in arid regions throughout the …

Carbon Intensity Not rated yet
Carbon intensity refers to the carbon emission per unit of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Climate Change and Carbon Intensity In the Copenhagen Accord …

Wildfire Definition Not rated yet
A wildfire is any uncontrollable fire ignition that may take place in the countryside or in the wilderness. There are certain factors that may cause …

Glacier Definition Not rated yet
A glacier is a huge mass of ice that originated from an accumulation of snow over many years. It moves very slowly over land and is formed when snow …

Perennial Definition Not rated yet
Perennial refers to something that lasts throughout the year, or for many years. For instance, permafrost is ground that stays perennially frozen …

Global Warming Potential Definition Not rated yet
The global warming potential (GWP) of a gas is measure of its total contribution to global warming . More specifically, it measures the warming impact …

Tornado Definition Not rated yet
A tornado is a localized, violently destructive windstorm that occurs over land. The powerful column of wind spirals around a center of low atmospheric …

Climate Definition Not rated yet
Climate refers to the average weather of an area over a period ranging from a few months to thousands or even millions of years. The World Meteorological …

Atmosphere Definition Not rated yet
An atmosphere is a gaseous envelope that surrounds a material of sufficient mass and is held in place by gravity. When discussing climate change or …

Thermal Expansion Definition Not rated yet
Thermal expansion can be defined as the increase in volume of matter when it is exposed to an increase in temperature. This phenomenon occurs because …

Weather Definition Not rated yet
Weather refers to the atmospheric condition at a certain time or place. Typically, weather is measured in terms of: wind temperature humidity …

Trace Gas Definition Not rated yet
A trace gas is a gas that makes up an extremely small portion of a mixture of gases. Trace Gas and Climate Change When discussing climate change , …

Sulfur Hexafluoride Definition Not rated yet
Sulfur hexafluoride (SF 6 ) is a very powerful greenhouse gas . In accordance with the IPCC ’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, sulfur hexafluoride …

Perfluorocarbons Definition Not rated yet
Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) are powerful greenhouse gases . Essentially, perfluorocarbons are chemicals composed only of the elements carbon and fluorine. …

Hydrofluorocarbons Definition Not rated yet
Hydrofluorocarbons are compounds consisting of hydrogen, fluorine, and carbon atoms. Also known as HFCs, hydrofluorocarbons were first introduced …

Hydrochlorofluorocarbons Definition Not rated yet
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons are compounds consisting of hydrogen, fluorine, chlorine, and carbon atoms. Although hydrochlorofluorocarbons are ozone depleting …

Chlorofluorocarbons Definition Not rated yet
Chlorofluorocarbons are compounds containing only carbon, chlorine, hydrogen, and fluorine. Also known as CFCs, chlorofluorocarbons are greenhouse …

Ozone Definition Not rated yet
Ozone (O 3 ) is the triatomic form of oxygen. First and foremost, ozone plays an important role in our atmosphere . Essentially, ozone is created …

Nitrous Oxide Definition Not rated yet
Nitrous oxide (N 2 O) is a powerful greenhouse gas . In accordance with the IPCC ’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, nitrous oxide has a global …

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Methane Definition Not rated yet
Methane (CH 4 ) is a hydrocarbon and an important greenhouse gas . According to the IPCC ’s Fourth Assessment Report in 2007, methane has a global …

Water Vapour Definition Not rated yet
Water vapour , also spelled water vapor , is the gaseous form of water. In an environmental context, this term is used to refer to the water vapour …

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Not rated yet
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , abbreviated as UNFCCC , establishes a global framework for countries around the world to …

Ultraviolet Radiation Definition Not rated yet
Ultraviolet radiation is an electromagnetic wave that lies just outside of the violet end of the visible spectrum. An estimated 5% of the total energy …

Stratosphere Definition Not rated yet
The stratosphere is a region within the atmosphere that lies between the troposphere and the mesosphere. Its upper boundary is at about 50 kilometers. …

Troposphere Definition Not rated yet
The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere , extending from the surface of the Earth to about 10 kilometres in altitude, on average. Essentially, …

Sink Definition Not rated yet
When discussing climate change or environmental issues, a sink refers to any process, activity or mechanism that could remove an aerosol , a greenhouse …

Alternative Energy Definition Not rated yet
Alternative energy refers to energy that is derived from non-traditional sources. Hence, alternative energy includes compressed natural gas, solar …

Recycling Definition Not rated yet
Recycling refers to collecting a waste product and reprocessing it so that it can be consumed once again. Recycling can also be defined as returning …

Photosynthesis Definition Not rated yet
Photosynthesis is an endergonic (energy requiring) process by which plants take in water, minerals, and carbon dioxide from the air (or bicarbonate in …

Permafrost Definition Not rated yet
Permafrost refers to ground that stays perennially frozen. In other words, it is ground that will remain frozen throughout the year. Typically, …

Particulate Matter Definition Not rated yet
Essentially, particulate matter refers to tiny pieces of solid or liquid substances. Examples include particles of aerosols, dust, fumes, mists, or …

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Not rated yet
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , often abbreviated as IPCC , was established in 1988 by both the United Nations Environment Programme …

Greenhouse Gas Definition Not rated yet
A greenhouse gas is a gas that can absorb infrared radiation in the atmosphere . As these gases take in infrared radiation, they trap heat within …

Greenhouse Effect Definition Not rated yet
The Greenhouse Effect refers to both the trapping and accumulation of the sun's heat within the troposphere , the layer of the atmosphere closest …

Enteric Fermentation Definition Not rated yet
Enteric fermentation is the process in which livestock produce methane via digestion. In fact, as much as one third of the emissions from the agricultural …

Climate Feedback Definition Not rated yet
A climate feedback is a process that will either amplify or reduce climate forcing . Climate forcing, also known as radiative forcing, refers to …

Feedback Mechanism Definition Not rated yet
Feedback mechanisms are factors which will alter the rate of a process. Those that will increase or amplify a process are known as positive feedback …

Energy Efficiency Definition Not rated yet
Energy efficiency is using less energy while providing the same products and services. Energy efficiency is an important step in helping stop climate …

Climate Model Definition Not rated yet
A climate model is essentially a representation of the many interactions within the climate which includes the atmosphere , oceans, land surface, …

Coral Bleaching Definition Not rated yet
Coral bleaching refers to the process in which a coral colony loses zooxanthellae, the microscopic algae, when under some form of environmental stress. …

Carbon Sequestration Definition Not rated yet
Terrestrial or biologic carbon sequestration refers to the process in which carbon dioxide is absorbed by plants. Subsequently, trees and other …

Carbon Dioxide Definition Not rated yet
Carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) is the primary anthropogenic greenhouse gas responsible for global warming . Although carbon dioxide is a naturally occurring …

Carbon Cycle Definition Not rated yet
The carbon cycle refers to the flow of carbon through the biosphere , pedosphere, geosphere, and hydrosphere. There are five main reservoirs of carbon …

Albedo Definition Not rated yet
Albedo is the amount of solar radiation reflected from an object or surface, usually expressed as a percentage. In the context of climate change …

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Global Warming Definition Not rated yet
Global warming is the increase in the average atmospheric temperature across our planet. Global warming is caused by greenhouse gases via the greenhouse …

Climate Change Definition Not rated yet
Climate change may refer to three different things: Firstly, climate change could be used to denote the study of the variations within the climate …

Abrupt Climate Change Definition Not rated yet
Abrupt climate change essentially refers to both rapid and significant changes in at least one climatic element (wind, temperature, or precipitation). …

Aerosols Definition Not rated yet
Aerosols are small liquid or solid particles that are suspended in gas. Depending on their composition, this dispersion of small particles can absorb …

Anthropogenic Definition Not rated yet
Anthropogenic refers to what is caused or influenced by humans. When discussing climate change , it is often used to refer to emissions produced as …

Biosphere Definition Not rated yet
The biosphere is the sum of all ecosystems worldwide. An ecosystem consists of all living organisms and the abiotic or nonliving environment which supplies …

Deep Ecology Definition Not rated yet
Deep ecology (a term coined by Norwegian philosopher Arne Næss) considers the deep philosophical causes to the environmental crisis and that the cure …

Sustainable Development Definition Not rated yet
Sustainable development is development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. …

Hybrid Vehicle Definition Not rated yet
Often simply called a hybrid , a hybrid vehicle is a vehicle that is powered by more than one distinct source. For example, an automobile that combines …

Heat Wave Definition Not rated yet
A heat wave is a prolonged period of extremely high temperatures for a particular region. A Relative Term However, there exist no universal definitions …

Drought Definition Not rated yet
A drought is a long period of abnormally low rainfall, especially one that is harmful to agriculture and the ecosystem. In some cases, it may have a devastating …

Tropical Storm Definition Not rated yet
A tropical storm is a cyclonic storm which originates from the tropics and has sustained winds ranging between 39 and 73 miles/hour (34 to 63 knots; 63 …

Hurricane Definition Not rated yet
A hurricane is a tropical cyclone with a wind velocity greater than 74 miles per hour (it is stronger than a tropical storm ). In order to specify …

Ozone Layer Definition Not rated yet
The ozone layer is the part of our atmosphere that traps heat from the sun and protects us from ultraviolet radiation . More specifically, the …

Reforestation Definition Not rated yet
Reforestation consists of planting trees or entire forests on terrain that used to contain them. Essentially, reforestation is used to bring back the …

Fossil Fuel Definition Not rated yet
Fossil fuels are hydrocarbon deposits that are burned for fuel. Fossil fuels play an important role in: Food Production Heating (in some communities) …

Renewable Energy Definition Not rated yet
Renewable energy includes all forms of energy obtained from a natural and recurring force. Essentially, renewable energy will help stop climate change …

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