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Teacher Resource 2
Task 2: Glossary of Key Terms: Answers
It involves taking practical actions to manage risks from climate impacts,
protect communities and strengthen the resilience of the economy.
Adaptation refers to dealing with the impacts of climate change.
Refers to the ratio of light from the sun that is reflected by the Earth’s
surface to the light received by it. Surfaces with a high albedo (e.g. snow
and ice) generally contribute to cooling, whereas surfaces with a low albedo
(e.g. forests) generally contribute to warming.
climate change
Refers to the production of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity
that have contributed to contemporary climate change.
Axial Tilt
The angle between a planet's rotational axis at its north pole and a line
perpendicular to the orbital plane of the planet.
Carbon Capture
and Storage
The process of capturing waste carbon dioxide (CO2) from large point
sources, such as fossil fuel power plants, transporting it to a storage site,
and depositing it where it will not enter the atmosphere, normally an
underground geological store.
Carbon Cycle
A biogeochemical cycle where carbon is cycled between the atmosphere,
biosphere, hydrosphere and geosphere.
Carbon Neutral
A process where there is no net release of CO2. For example, growing
biomass takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, while burning it releases the gas
again. The process would be carbon neutral if the amount taken out and the
amount released were identical. A company or country can also achieve
carbon neutrality by means of carbon offsetting.
Carbon Sinks
Processes that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere than they
release. Both the terrestrial biosphere and oceans can act as carbon sinks.
The long-term average weather of a region including typical weather
patterns, the frequency and intensity of storms, cold spells, and heat waves.
Climate is not the same as weather.
Climate Modelling
Is the process of using systems of mathematical equations that when
brought together allow simulations or predictions of future climate change to
be made.
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Climate Proxies
Evidence such as ice cores, pollen data and tree rings that provide
evidence for past climates.
Conference of the
Parties (COP)
The supreme decision-making body comprised of the parties that have
ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It meets on an
annual basis. As of February 2003, it is comprised of 188 countries. E.g.
Paris COP-21
The degree to which the Earth’s orbit is circular.
Emissions Trading
A market mechanism that allows emitters (countries, companies or facilities)
to buy emissions from or sell emissions to other emitters. Emissions trading
is expected to bring down the costs of meeting emission targets by allowing
those who can achieve reductions less expensively to sell excess
reductions (e.g. reductions in excess of those required under some
regulation) to those for whom achieving reductions is more costly.
The deliberate large-scale intervention in the Earth's natural systems to
counteract climate change e.g. cloud whitening.
Global Warming
The progressive gradual rise of the Earth's average surface temperature
thought to be caused in part by increased concentrations of GHGs in the
Ice Cores
Tubes of ice extracted in order to analyse a range of isotopic data, providing
a proxy for past climates.
A geological interval of warmer global average temperature lasting
thousands of years that separates consecutive glacial periods within an ice
Panel for Climate
Change (IPCC)
The IPCC was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological
Organization and the UN Environment Programme. The IPCC is
responsible for providing the scientific and technical foundation for the
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC)
primarily through the publication of periodic assessment reports (see
"Second Assessment Report" and "Third Assessment Report").
Kyoto Protocol
An international agreement adopted in December 1997 in Kyoto, Japan.
The Protocol sets binding emission targets for developed countries that
would reduce their emissions on average 5.2% below 1990 levels.
Mauna Loa Record
The record of measurement of atmospheric CO2 concentrations taken at
Mauna Loa Observatory, Mauna Loa, Hawaii, since March 1958. This
record shows the continuing increase in average annual atmospheric CO2
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Milankovitch Cycle
Describes the collective effects of changes in the Earth's movements upon
its climate e.g. eccentricity, axial tilt, precession.
Natural Forcing
Any influence on climate that originates from outside the climate system
itself e.g. changes to surface albedo.
Negative Feedback
A process that results in a reduction in the response of a system to an
external influence. For example, increased plant productivity in response to
global warming would be a negative feedback on warming, because the
additional growth would act as a sink CO2, reducing the atmospheric
CO2 concentration.
Positive Feedback
A process that results in an amplification of the response of a system to an
external influence. For example, increased atmospheric water vapour in
response to global warming would be a positive feedback on warming,
because water vapour is a GHG.
A change in the orientation of the rotational axis of a rotating body.
The most recent period of geological time i.e. the last 2.6 million years to
the present.
Any process or activity that results in the net release of greenhouse gases,
aerosols, or precursors of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
Tipping Point
A tipping point is a threshold for change, which, when reached, results in a
process that is difficult to reverse. Scientists say it is urgent that policy
makers halve global carbon dioxide emissions over the next 50 years or risk
triggering changes that could be irreversible.
Is a prominent feature of the benefits and costs of climate change. Decision
makers need to compare risk of premature or unnecessary actions with risk
of failing to take actions that subsequently prove to be warranted. This is
complicated by potential irreversibility in climate impacts and long term
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