Fred Jaicks  Written and compiled by Fred Jaicks


All the recent talk about climate change can be very confusing to
someone who only knows that they need to have umbrellas ready when it
rains. Here is a glossary of terms commonly associated with climate

  • Aerosol: airborne solid or liquid particles that reside in the atmosphere for – at the very least – several hours; they absorb radiation and act as condensation nuclei for cloud formation.
  • Afforestation: planting new forests on land that did not originally contain forests.
  • Alternate Energy: energy derived from sources that are considered “non-traditional” i.e. solar energy, wind energy, etc.
  • Biomass: the total weight of organisms that can be supported at each level of the food chain; also refers to materials that are biological in origin such as trees, roots, crops, etc.
  • Biosphere: part of the Earth system that contains all living organisms and ecosystems (the atmosphere, the land and the oceans)
  • Carbon Cycle: all parts and fluxes of carbon. The cycle has four main reservoirs: the atmosphere, land, oceans, and sediments. It refers to the exchanges between them.
  • Carbon Dioxide: a naturally occurring gas that is also a by-product of fossil fuels. It’s the main component of greenhouse gases affecting the Earth’s climate.
  • Climate: the “average weather” of the planet, including measurements of precipitation, temperature, and wind. Also seen as the state of the climate system.
  • Climate change: refers to any change in the natural climate that is significant and lasts for extended periods of time (decades or longer)
  • Crysophere: one of the interrelated components of the Earth’s system, this refers to frozen water in the form snow,
    permafrost, glaciers, and frozen ice.
  • Deforestation: any process that results in the conversion of forested lands for non-forest uses. It’s considered to be one of the main causes of the Earth’s enhanced greenhouse gases.
  • Desertification: land degradation that occurs in sub-humid areas that are also arid or semi-arid.
  • Ecosystem: refers to any natural entity (living and non-living) that interacts with something else to produce a stable system or cycle.
  • Emissions: the release of any substance, usually harmful, into the atmosphere.
  • Enhanced Greenhouse Effect: concept that the natural greenhouse affect has been enhanced by the constant emission of
    greenhouse gases.
  •  Fluorocarbons: carbon-fluoride compounds that contain other elements like chlorine, bromine, and hydrogen.
  • Geosphere: refers to the layers of Earth’s crust that contain sediments and soil (includes underwater sediment as well).
  •  Global Warming: an average increase in the actual temperature of the atmosphere in the Earth’s surface and up into the troposphere that contributes to changes in the overall global temperature
  • Greenhouse Effect: the trapping and build-up of heat in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface that affect the Earth’s overall temperature.
  • Hydrocarbons: substances that contain only carbon and hydrogen such as fossil fuels.
  • Landfill: land waste disposal site that is spread into layers, compacted, and covered with soil.
  • Natural Gas: underground deposits of gases that can be used as fuel sources.
  • Oxidize: to chemically change one substance by combining it with oxygen. Ozone Layer: layer of ozone that shields the Earth from harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. It’s currently being eroded.
  • Recycling: the collection and reprocessing of a resource so it can be reused.
  • Troposphere: lowest part of the atmosphere from the surface where clouds and “weather” phenomena occur.
  • Ultraviolet Radiation (UV): the energy range that plays a dominant role in energy balance and chemical composition.

Other Glossaries: