The Regional Impacts of Climate Change

Other reports in this collection

Annex F: Glossary of Terms

acclimatization physiological adaptation to climatic variations

active layer the top layer of soil in permafrost that is subjected to seasonal freezing and thawing

adaptability the degree to which adjustments are possible in practices, processes, or structures of systems to projected or actual changes of climate; adaptation can be spontaneous or planned, and can be carried out in response to or in anticipation of changes in conditions

afforestation forest stands established artificially on lands that previously have not supported forests for more than 50 years

agroclimatic climatic conditions as they relate to agricultural production; discrete set of zones each of which identifies areas capable of like types and levels of agricultural production

albino the surface reflectivity of the globe

alevin a young fish; especially, a newly hatched salmon when still attached to the yolk sac

algal blooms a reproductive explosion of algae in a lake, river, or ocean

alpine the biogeographic zone made up of slopes above timberline and characterized by the presence of rosette-forming herbaceous plants and low shrubby slow-growing woody plants

anadromous species species of fish, such as salmon, that spawn in fresh water and then migrate into the ocean to grow to maturity

anaerobic living, active, or occurring in the absence of free oxygen

annual plants terrestrial plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season; plants that die off each year during periods of temperature and moisture stress but leave behind seeds to germinate during the next favorable climatic season

anoxia a deficiency of oxygen, especially of such severity as to result in permanent damage

anoxic greatly deficient in oxygen

anthropogenic caused or produced by humans

anticyclone system a system of winds that rotates about a center of high atmospheric pressure (clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere)

aquifer permeable water-bearing formation capable of yielding exploitable quantities of water

arbovirus any of various viruses transmitted by arthropods and including the causative agents of dengue fever, yellow fever, and some encephalitis

arid lands ecosystems with <250 mm precipitation per year

autochthonous indigenous; formed or originating in the place where found

autonomous adaptation adaptation that occurs without specific human intervention

baseline scenario the set of predicted levels of economic growth, energy production and consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions assumed as the starting point for an analysis of mitigation options

basin drainage area of a stream, river, or lake

billabong cut-off meander

biodiversity the number of different species or functional groups of flora and fauna found in an area or ecosystem

biofuels fuels obtained as a product of biomass conversion (e.g., alcohol or gasohol)

biogas a gas composed principally of a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide produced by anaerobic digestion of biomass

biogeography the study of the geographical distribution of living organisms

biomass the total quantity of living matter in a particular habitat; plant and organic waste materials used as fuel and feedstock in place of fossil fuels

biome a grouping of similar plant and animal communities into broad landscape units that occur under similar environmental conditions

bog a poorly drained (usually acid) area rich in accumulated plant material, frequently surrounding a body of open water, and having a characteristic flora (as of sedges, heaths, and sphagnum)

bottom-up modeling a modeling approach that arrives at economic conclusions from an analysis of the effect of changes in specific parameters on narrow parts of the total system

building stock the residential and/or commercial structures extant in a society or a geographic area

C3 plants plants that produce a three-carbon compound during photosynthesis, including most trees and agricultural crops such as rice, wheat, soybeans, potatoes, and vegetables

C4 plants plants that produce a four-carbon compound during photosynthesis; mainly of tropical origin, including grasses and the agriculturally important crops maize, sugar cane, millet, and sorghum

calorie (food) 1000 (technical) calories

calving the breaking away of a mass of ice from a floating glacier, ice front, or iceberg

CAM variant of the C4 photosynthetic pathway in which most gas exchange occurs at night; occurs primarily in succulents (e.g., cacti)

carbon intensity CO2 emissions per unit of energy or economic output

carbon sequestration the biochemical process through which carbon in the atmosphere is absorbed by biomass such as trees, soils, and crops

carbon sinks chemical processes that absorb carbon dioxide

carbon stocks the amount of carbon that is stored in carbon sinks

carbon tax a levy exacted by a government on the use of carbon- containing fuels for the purpose of influencing human behavior (specifically economic behavior) to use less fossil fuels

carrying capacity the number of individuals in a population that the resources of a habitat can support

catchment area having a common outlet for its surface runoff

Chagas' disease a parasitic disease caused by the Trypanosoma cruzi and transmitted by triatomine bugs in the Americas, with two clinical periods: Acute (fever, swelling of the spleen, edemas) and chronic (heart disorder that may produce high fatality, or digestive syndrome)

CO2 fertilization the enhancement of plant growth as a result of elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration

communicable disease infectious disease caused by transmission of an infective biological agent (virus, bacterium, protozoan, or multicellular macroparasite)

cryosphere all global snow, ice, and permafrost

Dengue fever an infectious viral disease spread by mosquitoes, the first infection of which is often called breakbone fever and is characterized by severe pain in joints and back, fever, and rash; a subsequent infection is usually characterized by fever, bleeding from bodily orifices, and sometimes death

desert an ecosystem with <100 mm precipitation per year

determinate crops crops characterized by sequential flowering from the central or uppermost bud to the lateral or basal buds; also, crops characterized by growth in which the main stem ends in an inflorescence and stops growing with only branches from the main stem having further and similarly restricted growth

diapause period of suspended growth or development and reduced metabolism in the life cycle of many insects, when organism is more resistant to unfavorable environmental conditions than in other periods

dissolved load the amount of particles in a stream or other water source that arises as a result of erosion diurnal climate a climate with uniform amplitudes of temperature throughout the year

econometric an approach to studying a problem through use of mathematical and statistical methods in the field of economics to develop and verify theories

economies in transition national economies that are moving from a period of heavy government control toward lessened intervention, increased privatization, and greater use of competition

ecotax a levy exacted by a government for the purpose of influencing human behavior (specifically economic behavior) to follow an ecologically benign path

ecotone transition area between adjacent ecological communities (e.g., between forests and grasslands), usually involving competition between organisms common to both

ecotopic tendency or involving adjustment to specific habitat conditions

edaphic of or relating to the soil; factors inherent in the soil

El Nio an irregular variation of ocean current that, from January to February, flows off the west coast of South America, carrying warm, low-salinity, nutrient-poor water to the south; does not usually extend farther than a few degrees south of the Equator, but occasionally it does penetrate beyond 12S, displacing the relatively cold Peruvian current; usually short-lived effects, but sometimes last more than a year, raising sea-surface temperatures along the coast of Peru and in the equatorial eastern Pacific Ocean, having disastrous effects on marine life and fishing

endemic restricted or peculiar to a locality or region

endemic infection a sustained, relatively stable, pattern of infection within a specified population

energy efficiency ratio of energy output of a conversion process or of a system to its energy input; also known as first-law efficiency

energy intensity ratio between the consumption of energy to a given quantity; usually refers to the amount of primary or final energy consumed per unit of gross domestic or national product

epidemic appearance of an abnormally high number of cases of infection in a given population; can also refer to noninfectious diseases (e.g., heart disease) or to acute events such as chemical toxicity

epilimnion the water layer overlying the thermocline of a lake

euphotic zone the upper layers of a body of water into which sufficient light penetrates to permit photosynthesis

eustatic sea-level rise worldwide rise in sea level

eutrophication the process by which a body of water (often shallow) becomes (either naturally or by pollution) rich in dissolved nutrients with a seasonal deficiency in dissolved oxygen

evapotranspiration loss of water from the soil both by evaporation from the surface and transpiration from the plants growing thereon

exergy the maximum amount of energy that under given (ambient) thermodynamic conditions can be converted into any other form or energy; also known as availability or work potential

exergy efficiency the ratio of (theoretical) minimum exergy input to actual input of a process or a system; also known as second-law efficiency

extant currently or actually existing

extinction complete disappearance of an entire species

extirpation disappearance of a species from part of its range; local extinction

fallow land left unseeded after plowing; uncultivated

fast ice sea or lake ice that remains tied to the coast (usually >2 m above sea level)

feedback when one variable in a system triggers changes in a second variable that in turn ultimately affects the original; a positive feedback intensifies the effect, and a negative reduces the effect

fen low land covered wholly or partly with water unless artificially drained

forest an ecosystem in which the dominant plants are trees; woodlands are distinguished from forests by their lower density of trees

forestation generic term for establishing forest stands by reforestation and afforestation

forest decline premature, progressive loss of tree and stand vigor and health

frazil ice fine spicules or plates of ice in suspension in water

friable soils soils that are easily crumbled or pulverized

geomorphic of or related to the form of the Earth or its surfaces

greenhouse gas any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere

gross primary production the amount of carbon fixed in photosynthesis by plants

ground ice ice present within rock, sediments, or soil

groundwater recharge process by which external water is added to the zone of saturation of an aquifer, either directly into a formation or indirectly by way of another formation

halocarbons chemicals containing carbon and members of the halogen family

halophyte species a plant (as saltbush or sea lavender) that grows in salty soil and usually has a physiological resemblance to a true xerophyte

heath any of the various low-growing shrubby plants of open wastelands, usually growing on acidic, poorly drained soils

heat island an area within an urban area characterized by ambient temperatures higher than those of the surrounding area because of the absorption of solar energy by materials like asphalt

herbaceous flowering, non-woody plants

herbivore an animal that feeds on plants

hydroperiod the depth, frequency, duration, and season of wetland flooding

hypolimnion the part of a lake below the thermocline made up of water that is stagnant and of essentially uniform temperature except during the period of overturn

ice cap a dome-shaped glacier covering a highland area (considerably smaller in extent than ice sheets)

ice jam an accumulation of broken river or sea ice caught in a narrow channel

ice sheet a mass of snow and ice of considerable thickness and large area greater than 50,000 km2

ice shelf a floating ice sheet of considerable thickness attached to a coast (usually of great horizontal extent with a level or gently undulating surface); often a seaward extension of ice sheets

icing a sheet-like mass of layered ice formed by the freezing of water as it emerges from the ground or through fractures in river or lake ice

immunosuppression reduced functioning of an individual's immune system

incidence the number of cases of a disease commencing, or of persons falling ill, during a given period of time within a specified population

industrial ecology the set of relationships of a particular industry with its environment; often refers to the conscious planning of industrial processes so as to minimize their negative interference with the surrounding environment

industrialization the conversion of a society from one based on manual labor to one based on the application of mechanical devices

infiltration flow of water through the soil surface into a porous medium

infrastructure the basic installations and facilities upon which the operation and growth of a community depend, such as roads; schools; electric, gas, and water utilities; transportation and communications systems; and so on

inoculation the introduction of a pathogen or antigen into a living organism to stimulate the production of antibodies

inselberg an isolated mountain or granite outcropping

isohyet a line on a map or chart indicating equal rainfall

international dollars values obtained using special conversion factors that equalize the purchasing powers of different currencies (i.e., the number of units of a country's currency required to buy the same amounts of goods and services in the domestic market as $1 would buy in the "average" country), thus equalizing dollar prices in every country so that cross-country comparisons of GDP reflect differences in quantities of goods and services free of price-level differentials

isotherms geographic bands of similar temperatures

keystone species a species that has a central servicing role affecting many other organisms and whose demise is likely to result in the loss of a number of species and lead to major changes in ecosystem function

land use the purpose an area of the Earth is put to (e.g., agriculture, forestry, urban dwellings, or transportation corridors) or its character (e.g., swamp, grassland, or desert)

lapse rate the rate of temperature decrease with increase in altitude

leaching the removal of soil elements or applied chemicals through percolation

legume plants that through a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria are able to fix nitrogen from the air (e.g., peas, beans, alfalfa, clovers)

lichen symbiotic organisms consisting of an alga and fungus important to the weathering and breakdown of rocks

life-cycle cost the cost of a good or service over its entire lifetime

littoral zone a coastal region; the shore zone between high and low watermarks

low emissivity a property of materials that hinders or blocks the transmission of a particular band of radiation (e.g., that in the infrared)

macroeconomic pertaining to a study of economics in terms of whole systems, especially with reference to general levels of output and income and to the interrelations among sectors of the economy

malaria endemic or epidemic parasitic disease caused by species of the genus Plasmodium (protozoa) and transmitted by mosquitoes of the genus Auopheles; produces high fever attacks and systemic disorders, and kills ~2 million people every year

market equilibrium the point at which demand for goods and services equals the supply; often described in terms of the level of prices, determined in a competitive market, that "clears" the market

market penetration the percentage of all its potential purchasers to which a good or service is sold per unit time

miombo deciduous tropical woodland and dry forest ecosystems dominated by trees in the genera Brachystegia, Julbernardia, and Isoberlinia of the family Fabaceae, subfamily Caesalpinioideae

mitigation an anthropogenic intervention to reduce the emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases

monsoon wind in the genereal atmospheric circulation typified by a seasonal persistent wind direction and by a pronounced change in direction from one season to the next

montane the biogeographic zone made up of relatively moist, cool upland slopes below timberline and characterized by the presence of large evergreen trees as a dominant life form

mopane woodland of Colophospermum mopane-a multi-purpose hardwood tree species used for fodder, house building, and fuelwood

moraine an accumulation of Earth and stones carried and finally deposited by a glacier

morbidity the rate of occurrence of disease or other health disorder within a population, taking account of the age-specific morbidity rates; health outcomes include, for example, chronic disease incidence or prevalence, rates of hospitalization, primary care consultations, disability-days (e.g., of lost work), and prevalence of symptoms

morphology the form and structure of an organism or any of its parts

morphometry measurement of external form

mortality the rate of occurrence of death within a population within a specified time period; calculation of mortality takes account of age-specific death rates, and can thus yield measures of life expectancy and the extent of premature death

mycosis infection with or disease caused by a fungus

net ecosystem production the net gain or loss of carbon from an ecosystem or region

net primary production the increase in plant biomass or carbon of a unit of a landscape; gross primary production (all carbon fixed through photosynthesis) minus plant respiration equals net primary production

nitrification the oxidation of ammonium salts to nitrites and the further oxidation of nitrites to nitrates

NOx any of several oxides of nitrogen

non-tidal wetlands areas of land not subject to tidal influences where the water table is at or near the surface for some defined period of time, leading to unique physiochemical and biological processes and conditions characteristic of water-logged systems

northern wetlands wetlands in the boreal, subarctic, and arctic regions of the northern hemisphere

obligate species species restricted to one particularly characteristic mode of life

orography the branch of physical geography that deals with mountains and mountain systems

pack ice any area of sea, river, or lake ice other than fast ice

paleoecology the branch of ecology concerned with identifying and interpreting the relationships of ancient plants and animals to their environment

paludism malaria

pancake ice new ice about 0.3 to 3 m in diameter, with raised rims about the circumference from striking other pieces

peat unconsolidated soil material consisting largely of partially decomposed organic matter accumulated under conditions of excess moisture or other conditions that decrease decomposition rates

pelagic of, relating to, or living or occurring in the open sea

perennial plants plants that persist for several years, usually with new herbaceous growth from a perennating part

permafrost perennially frozen ground that occurs wherever the temperature remains below 0C for several years

phenology the study of natural phenomena that recur periodically (e.g., blooming, migrating) and their relation to climate and seasonal changes

photochemical smog a mix of photochemical oxidant air pollutants produced by the reaction of sunlight with primary air pollutants

photoperiodic response response to the lengths of alternating periods of light and dark as they affect the timing of development

physiographic of, relating to, or employing a description of nature or natural phenomena

phytophagous insects insects that feed on plants

potential evapotranspiration maximum quantity of water capable of being evaporated in a given climate from a continuous stretch of vegetation (i.e., includes evaporation from the soil and transpiration from the vegetation of a specified region in a given time interval, expressed as depth)

potential production estimated production of a crop under conditions when nutrients and water are available at optimum levels for plant growth and development; other conditions such as daylength, temperature, soil characteristics, etc., determined by site characteristics

prevalence the proportion of persons within a population who are currently affected by a particular disease

primary energy the energy that is embodied in resources as they exist in nature (e.g., coal, crude oil, natural gas, uranium, or sunlight); the energy that has not undergone any sort of conversion

purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP estimates based on the purchasing power of currencies rather than on current exchange rates; such estimates are a blend of extrapolated and regression-based numbers, using the results of the International Comparison Program (ICP); PPP estimates tend to lower per capita GDPs in industrialized countries and raise per capita GDPs in developing countries

radiative forcing a change in average net radiation at the top of the troposphere resulting from a change in either solar or infrared radiation due to a change in atmospheric greenhouse gases concentrations; perturbance in the balance between incoming solar radiation and outgoing infrared radiation

rangeland unimproved grasslands, shrublands, savannas, and tundra

reference scenario the set of predicted levels of economic growth, energy production and consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions (and underlying assumptions) with which other scenarios examining various policy options are compared

reforestation forest stands established artificially on lands that have supported forests within the last 50 years

reserves those occurrences of energy sources or minerals that are identified and measured as economically and technically recoverable with current technologies and prices

resources those occurrences of energy sources or minerals with less certain geological and/or economic/technical recoverability characteristics, but that are considered to become potentially recoverable with foreseeable technological and economic development

respiration the metabolic process by which organisms meet their internal energy needs and release CO2

riparian relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater

runoff water (from precipitation or irrigation) that does not evaporate or seep into the soil but flows into rivers, streams, or lakes, and may carry sediment

ruderal pertaining to or inhabiting highly disturbed sites; weedy

salinization the accumulation of salts in soils

saltation the transportation of particles by currents of water or wind in such a manner that they move along in a series of short intermittent leaps

seasonal climate a climate characterized by both warm and cold periods through the year

semi-arid lands ecosystems that have >250 mm precipitation per year, but are not highly productive; usually classified as rangelands

senescence the growth phase in a plant or plant part (as a leaf) from full maturity to death

sensitivity the degree to which a system will respond to a change in climatic conditions (e.g., the extent of change in ecosystem composition, structure and functioning, including net primary productivity, resulting from a given change in temperature or precipitation)

sequestration to separate, isolate or withdraw; usually refers to removal of CO2 from atmosphere by plants or by technological measures

set-aside program a generic term covering a variety of government programs-primarily in the U.S., Canada, and Europe that require farmers to remove a portion of their acreage from production for purposes of controlling yield, soil conservation, etc.

shelterbelt a natural or artificial forest maintained for protection against wind or snow

silt unconsolidated or loose sedimentary material whose constituent rock particles are finer than grains of sand and larger than clay particles

slake to cause to heat and crumble by treatment with water

slip faces the lee side of a dune where the slope approximates the angle of rest of loose sand (usually ~33)

smog see photochemical

smolt a young salmon or sea trout about two years old that is at the stage of development when it assumes the silvery color of the adult and is ready to migrate to the sea

snowpacks a seasonal accumulation of slow-melting snow

soil erosion the process of removal and transport of the soil by water and/or wind

southern oscillation a large-scale atmospheric and hydrospheric fluctuation centered in the equatorial Pacific Ocean; exhibits a nearly annual pressure anomaly, alternatively high over the Indian Ocean and high over the South Pacific; its period is slightly variable, averaging 2.33 years; the variation in pressure is accompanied by variations in wind strengths, ocean currents, sea- surface temperatures, and precipitation in the surrounding areas

sphagnum moss a genus of moss that covers large areas of wetlands in the northern hemisphere; sphagnum debris is usually a major constituent of the peat in these areas

stakeholders person or entity holding grants, concessions, or any other type of value which would be affected by a particular action or policy

stochastic events events involving a random variable, chance, or probability

stomata the minute openings in the epidermis of leaves through which gases interchange between the atmosphere and the intercellular spaces within leaves

succession transition in the composition of plant communities following disturbance

susceptibility probability for an individual or population of being affected by an external factor

sustainable a term used to characterize human action that can be undertaken in such a manner as to not adversely affect environmental conditions (e.g., soil, water quality, climate) that are necessary to support those same activities in the future

symbionts organisms that live together to mutual benefit [e.g., nitrogen-fixing bacteria that live with a plant (legume)]

synoptic relating to or displaying atmospheric and weather conditions as they exist simultaneously over a broad area

taiga coniferous forests of northern North America and Eurasia

talik a layer of unfrozen ground occurring between permafrost and the active layer

technical calorie the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 g of water 1C at 15C

thermohaline circulation circulation driven by density gradients, which are controlled by temperature and salinity

thermokarst irregular, hummocky topography in frozen ground caused by melting of ice

thermophilic species species growing at high temperatures

timberline the upper limit of tree growth in mountains or high latitudes

transpiration the emission of water vapor from the surfaces of leaves or other plant parts

tsunami a large tidal wave produced by a submarine earthquake, landslide, or volcanic eruption

ungulate a hoofed typically herbivorous quadruped mammal (as a ruminant, swine, camel, hippopotamus, horse, tapir, rhinoceros, elephant, or hyrax)

upwelling transport of deeper water to the surface, usually caused by horizontal movements of surface water

urbanization the conversion of land from a natural state or managed natural state (such as agriculture) to cities

vector an organism, such as an insect, that transmits a pathogen from one host to another

vernalization the act or process of hastening the flowering and fruiting of plants by treating seeds, bulbs, or seedlings so as to induce a shortening of the vegetative period

vulnerability the extent to which climate change may damage or harm a system; it depends not only on a system's sensitivity, but also on its ability to adapt to new climatic conditions

wadi a water course that is dry except during the rainy season; the stream or flush that runs through it

water-use efficiency carbon gain in photosynthesis per unit water lost in evapotranspiration; can be expressed on a short-term basis as the ratio of photosynthetic carbon gain per unit transpirational water loss, or on a seasonal basis as the ratio of net primary production or agricultural yield to the amount of available water

winter dormancy period without biochemical activity in plant tissues

xeric requiring only a small amount of moisture

xerophyte a plant structurally adapted for life and growth with a limited water supply, especially by means of mechanisms that limit transpiration or that provide for the storage of water

Other reports in this collection

IPCC Homepage