The mass of air surrounding the Earth.
The atmosphere consists of nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%), and traces of other
gases such as argon, helium,
carbon dioxide, and
The atmosphere plays an important role in the protection of life on Earth; it
absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation and reduces temperature extremes between day
Biofuels are non-fossil fuels. They are energy carriers that
store the energy derived from organic materials (biomass), including plant
materials and animal waste.
They may be solid, such as fuelwood, charcoal and wood pellets; liquid, such
as ethanol, biodiesel and pyrolysis oils; or gaseous, such as biogas.
The total quantity or mass of organic
material produced by living organisms in a particular area, at a given time.
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
A colorless, odorless, non-combustible gas, present in low concentrations in
the air we breathe (about three hundredths of one percent by volume).
Carbon dioxide is produced when any substance containing carbon is burned. It
is also a product of breathing and fermentation. Plants absorb carbon dioxide
(Source: The Pacific Forest Trust
- Carbon sequestration
The removal and storage of carbon from the atmosphere in carbon sinks (such as
oceans, forests or soils) through physical or biological processes, such as
Humans have tried to increase carbon sequestration by growing new forests.
- Climate change
The long-term fluctuations in temperature, precipitation, wind, and all other
aspects of the Earth's climate.
It is also defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as
“change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity
that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to
natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”
- CO2 Enhanced oil recovery
Injection of CO2 into
depleting oil reservoirs to recover additional oil beyond what would have been
recovered by conventional drilling.
(Source: GreenFacts, based on
A material made up of two or more
elements combined in a fixed ratio.
The complex system of plant, animal, fungal, and microorganism
communities and their associated non-living
environment interacting as an ecological unit.
Ecosystems have no fixed boundaries; instead their parameters are set to the
scientific, management, or policy question being examined. Depending upon the
purpose of analysis, a single lake, a
watershed, or an entire region could be
considered an ecosystem.
Glossary of Climate Change Terms
- Environmental cycles
A natural process in which elements are continuously cycled in various forms
between different compartments of the environment (e.g., air, water, soil,
Examples include the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
(nutrient cycles) and the water cycle.
- Flue gas
The air coming out of a chimney after combustion in the burner it is venting.
It can include nitrogen oxides, carbon oxides, water vapor, sulfur oxides,
particles and many chemical pollutants.
US Environmental Protection Agency
- Fossil fuel(s)
A general term for buried combustible geologic deposits of organic materials,
formed from decayed plants and animals that have been converted to crude oil,
coal, natural gas, or heavy oils by exposure to heat and pressure in the Earth's
crust over hundreds of millions of years.
Glossary of Climate Change terms
- Greenhouse gas
Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both
natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and
emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation
emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds.
This property causes the greenhouse effect.
Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2),
nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4), and
ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases
in the Earth’s atmosphere. Moreover there are a number of entirely human-made
greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as the halocarbons and other
chlorine and bromine containing substances,
dealt with under the Montreal Protocol. Beside CO2, N2O and CH4, the
Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gases
sulphur hexafluoride (SF6),
hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).
Water beneath the Earth's surface in the spaces between soil particles and
between rock surfaces.
An ice-like compound formed by the reaction of water and carbon dioxide
(CH4) or similar gases.
- Institute for the encouragement of Scientific Research and Innovation of Brussels
"ISRIB, which was instituted by the Brussels decree of 26 June 2003, began its activites on 1st July 2004.
The mission of the Institute is to promote, support and valorize scientific research and technological innovation in the Brussels-Capital Region.
This task consists principally in funding research projects undertaken within the companies, the universities and the higher education institutes located in the Region."
(Source: ISRIB website )
- Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC)
Power plant using gas produced from high-sulfur coal, heavy petroleum residues
IGCC is an advanced power generation technology which allows to reduce
emissions of NOx,
particulate matter and improve fuel
efficiency of coal.
It is a combination of two technologies.
- coal gasification, which uses coal to create a clean-burning gas
- combined-cycle, which is the most efficient method of producing
electricity from gas commercially available today (a gas turbine
generator generates electricity and the waste heat is used to make steam
to generate additional electricity via a steam turbine).
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been
established by WMO and UNEP to assess scientific, technical and socio- economic
information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential
impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.
IPCC publications are prepared by three Working Groups (WG I, II and III)
composed of hundreds of scientists from many countries. The IPCC's Fourth
Assessment Report (4AR), published in 2007, is available at
The "Summaries for Policymakers" by the three Working Groups, which were used
as the source for the GreenFacts Digest on Climate Change (2007), can be found
The IPCC's previous report on climate change, the 2001 Third Assessment Report
(TAR), was also summarised by GreenFacts
(click here for the Digest).
In 2007, the IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore "for their efforts
to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and
to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such
- Liquefied petroleum gas
A mixture of butane, propane and other light hydrocarbons derived from
refining crude oil. This gas mixture can be cooled or subjected to moderate
pressure to be transformed into a liquid state to facilitate storage and
- London Convention
In 1972, an Inter-Governmental Conference on the Convention of the Dumping of
Wastes at Sea adopted the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by
Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, also called the London Convention.
This was the first major global initiative designed to protect the marine
environment from unregulated dumping of waste. The Convention entered into force
on 30 August 1975. Currently, 82 States are Parties to this Convention.
International Marine Organization
Methane is a colorless, flammable, nontoxic gas with the chemical formula
This gas is formed naturally by the decomposition of
organic matter. Wetlands, livestock and
energy are the main sources of methane emissions to the
atmosphere, where it acts as a
Methane is also a major component of natural gas. It is mainly extracted from
geological deposits for fuel and industrial uses
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Mineral Carbonation
The reaction of carbon dioxide with
magnesium and calcium containing silicate minerals to form geologically stable,
environmentally benign carbonate minerals (calcite and magnesite), allowing for
the storage of CO2 in a stable, inert and solid form.
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Natural gas combined cycle (NGCC)
NGCC is an advanced power generation technology which allows to improve the
fuel efficiency of natural gas. Most new gas power plants in North America and
Europe are of this type.
A gas turbine generator generates electricity and the waste heat is used to
make steam to generate additional electricity via a steam turbine
- OSPAR Convention
The 1992 OSPAR Convention [originally the Oslo and Paris Conventions] is the
current instrument guiding international cooperation on the protection of the
marine environment of the North-East Atlantic.
It combined and up-dated the 1972 Oslo Convention on dumping waste at sea and
the 1974 Paris Convention on land-based sources of marine pollution.
pH is a measure of the concentration of
protons (H+) in a solution and, therefore, its
acidity or alkalinity. The concept was
introduced by S.P.L. Sørensen in 1909. The p stands for the German "Potenz",
meaning power or concentration, and the H
for the hydrogen ion (H+). In
layman's terms , the "pH" value is an approximate number between 0 and 14 that
indicates whether a solution is acidic (pH < 7), basic (pH > 7) or
neither (pH = 7) [neutral].
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Pulverized coal combustion
Refers to any combustion process that uses very finely ground (pulverized)
coal in the process. The coal powder is blown into the combustion zone of a
furnace and burns more rapidly and efficiently because finely ground coal has
more surface area per unit weight than larger particles.
(Source: GreenFacts )
- Saline formations
A deep underground rock formation composed of permeable materials and
containing highly saline fluids.
A plausible and often simplified description of how the future may develop,
based on a coherent and internally consistent set of assumptions about key
driving forces (e.g., rate of technology change, prices) and relationships.
Scenarios are neither predictions nor projections and sometimes may be based
on a “narrative storyline.”
Scenarios may include projections but are often based on additional
information from other sources.
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Glossary
A group of organisms that differ from all other groups of organisms and that
are capable of breeding and producing fertile offspring. This is the smallest
unit of classification for plants and animals.
Glossary of Common Terms and Definitions in Marine
- Supercritical carbon dioxide
A supercritical fluid is a substance at a temperature and pressure above its
critical temperature and pressure. The critical point represents the highest
temperature and pressure at which the substance can exist as a vapour and liquid
in equilibrium. It has the unique ability to diffuse through solids like a gas,
and dissolve materials like a liquid. Additionally, it can readily change in
density upon minor changes in temperature or pressure. These properties make it
suitable as a substitute for organic solvents.
Carbon dioxide usually behaves as a gas in air or as a solid called dry ice
when frozen. Above its critical temperature and pressure, it behaves like a
supercritical fluid and can adopt properties midway between a gas and a liquid.
Supercritical carbon dioxide is for instance used by coffee manufacturers as a
decaffeinating solvent, because of its low toxicity and environmental impact..
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
"Poverty reduction and sustainable development are the principal tasks of the SDC. To facilitate the achievement of these goals, the SDC focuses on various thematic priorities. In each thematic domain, a sub-goal is targeted while ever keeping in mind the fact that the priority themes are intimately linked to one another."
(Source: SDC website )
- United Nations Environment Programme
"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), established in 1972, works to encourage sustainable development through sound environmental practices everywhere. Its activities cover (...) the promotion of environmental science and information, to an early warning and emergency response capacity to deal with environmental disasters and emergencies."
See also UNEP.Net , which "delivers authoritative environmental information from a broad range of information and data providers (...)".
(Source: UNEP website )
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The Convention on Climate Change sets an overall framework for
intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change. It
recognizes that the climate system is a shared resource whose stability can be
affected by industrial and other emissions of carbon dioxide and other
greenhouse gases. The Convention enjoys near universal membership, with 191
countries having ratified.
Under the Convention, governments:
- gather and share information on greenhouse gas emissions, national
policies and best practices
- launch national strategies for addressing greenhouse gas emissions and
adapting to expected impacts, including the provision of financial and
technological support to developing countries
- cooperate in preparing for adaptation to the impacts of climate
The Convention entered into force on 21 March 1994.
Organic compound of carbon, nitrogen,
oxygen and hydrogen highly soluble in water.
In mammals, urea is also a waste product of digested
protein normally filtered out by the
kidneys and excreted from the body in urine.
The main commercial use of urea is as a fertilizer but it has many other
industrial uses. For instance, it can serve as the raw material for the
manufacture of other chemicals, and as an ingredient in cosmetics.
- Water vapor
Water in its gaseous form.
In the atmosphere it acts as a natural
Unit of power equivalent to 1 joule of energy per second (1 J/s).