Global Impacts of climate change in the Arctic


Glossary over Global Impacts of climate change in the Arctic

Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme

Based in Norway:

AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme), established in 1991 under the eight-country Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, monitors and assesses the status of the Arctic region with respect to pollution and climate change. Since 1996, AMAP has served as one of the Arctic Council’s six working groups.

AMAP produces science- based, policy-relevant assessments and public outreach products to inform policy and decision-making processes. Since 1996, AMAP has served as one of the Arctic Council’s six working groups. (Source: AMAP website  )


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 ozone.

The atmosphere plays an important role in the protection of life on Earth; it absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation and reduces temperature extremes between day and night. (Source: GreenFacts)



Biodiversity is a contraction of biological diversity. Biodiversity reflects the number, variety and variability of living organisms.

It includes diversity within species (genetic diversity), between species (species diversity), and between ecosystems (ecosystem diversity). (Source: GreenFacts)


Boreal forest

A forest that grows in regions of the northern hemisphere with cold temperatures. Made up mostly of cold tolerant coniferous species such as spruce and fir. (Source: LEAF Glossary   )


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 through photosynthesis. (Source: The Pacific Forest Trust Glossary )


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” (Source: CoRIS glossary  )


When referring to humans, a community is defined as:

A collection of human beings who have something in common.

A local community is a fairly small group of people who share a common place of residence and a set of institutions based on this fact, but the word ‘community’ is also used to refer to larger collections of people who have something else in common (e.g., national community, donor community).

When referring to other living organisms, a community is defined as:

An assemblage of species occurring in the same space or time, often linked by biotic interactions such as competition or predation. (Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )


A substance that is either present in an environment where it does not belong or is present at levels that might cause harmful effects to humans or the environment. (Source: GreenFacts)

Dental erosion

Dental erosion is the loss of enamel and dentine from the tooth as a result of direct acid attack.

It is caused by excessive exposure to acid substances – such as those present in fruit juices and fizzy drinks – that are different from those produced by bacteria involved in the process of dental caries (decay).

Dental erosion is irreversible.

The most common teeth affected by dental erosion are the upper front teeth, although all teeth can be affected. Teeth that have been eroded look glassy, can appear short, and have uneven tips that are easily chipped away. (Source: GreenFacts, based on The Dental Centre Dental Erosion  )

Ecosystem change

Any variation in the state, outputs, or structure of an ecosystem. (Source: MA  Glossary )


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. (Source: US EPA 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, organisms).

Examples include the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles (nutrient cycles) and the water cycle. (Source: GreenFacts)



A particular kind of fishing activity, e.g., a trawl fishery or a particular species targeted, e.g., a cod fishery or salmon fishery. (Source: MA  Glossary )


The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) defines “forest” as a portion of land bigger than half a hectare (5 000m2) with trees higher than 5 meters and a tree canopy cover of more than 10 %, or with trees that will be able to meet these criteria.

It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.



Water that is not salty, for instance water found in lakes, streams, and rivers, but not the ocean. Also used to refer to things living in or related to freshwater (e.g., "freshwater fish"). (Source: GreenFacts)



A moving body of ice that forms on land from the accumulation and compaction of snow, and that flows downslope or outward due to gravity and the pressure of its own weight. (Source: Alcwin Dictionary of Geology  )


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). (Source: IPCC Glossary  )

Ice cap, ice sheet, polar ice cap

An ice cap is a dome-shaped mass of glacier ice that spreads out in all directions; usually larger than an icefield but less than 50 000 km2.

An ice sheet is a dome-shaped mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than 50 000 km2, such as the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets.

A polar ice cap, also called polar ice sheet, is a high-latitude region of land or water covered in ice-



Methane is a colorless, flammable, nontoxic gas with the chemical formula CH4.

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 greenhouse gas.

Methane is also a major component of natural gas. It is mainly extracted from geological deposits for fuel and industrial uses (Source: GreenFacts )


Any living organism that is too small to be seen by the naked eye such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa, single-celled algae, and many types of fungi. (Source: GreenFacts)


A layer of soil or bedrock at a variable depth beneath the surface of the earth in which the temperature has been below freezing continuously from a few to several thousands of years.


Primary & Secondary pollutant

A primary pollutant is an air pollutant emitted directly from a source.

A secondary pollutant is not directly emitted as such, but forms when other pollutants (primary pollutants) react in the atmosphere.

Examples of a secondary pollutant include ozone, which is formed when hydrocarbons (HC) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) combine in the presence of sunlight; NO2, which is formed as NO combines with oxygen in the air; and acid rain, which is formed when sulfur dioxide or nitrogen oxides react with water. (Source: GreenFacts)


Refers to the amount of disturbance or stress that an ecosystem can absorb and still remain capable of returning to its pre- disturbance state. (Source: GreenFacts, based on Millennium Ecosystem Assessment  Glossary )


Sea ice

Sea ice is frozen ocean water.

It occurs in both the Arctic and Antarctic and can cover large extents of water.

It grows during the winter months and melts during the summer months, but some sea ice remains all year in certain regions.

About 15 percent of the world's oceans are covered by sea ice during part of the year.

The freezing temperature of salt water is lower than fresh water; ocean temperatures must reach -1.8° C Celsius (28.8°F) to freeze. (Source: GreenFacts based on NSIDC All about sea ice )



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. (Source: OceanLink Glossary of Common Terms and Definitions in Marine Biology  )


The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection

The Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP) is an advisory body, established in 1969, that advises the United Nations (UN) system on the scientific aspects of marine environmental protection.

At present GESAMP is jointly sponsored by nine UN organizations with responsibilities relating to the marine environment, and they utilize GESAMP as a mechanism for coordination and collaboration among them. GESAMP functions are to conduct and support marine environmental assessments, to undertake in-depth studies, analyses, and reviews of specific topics, and to identify emerging issues regarding the state of the marine environment. GESAMP itself today consists of 16 experts, drawn from a wide range of relevant disciplines, who act in an independent and individual capacity. Studies and assessments are usually carried out by dedicated working groups, most of whose members are not sitting members of GESAMP but part of the broader GESAMP network.


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Threshold (in an ecosystem)

The level of magnitude of a system process at which sudden or rapid change occurs. (Source: Glossary of terms  )



A type of ecosystem dominated by lichens, mosses, grasses, and woody plants.

Tundra is found at high latitudes (arctic tundra) and high altitudes (alpine tundra).

Arctic tundra is underlain by permafrost and is usually [water] saturated. (Source: ACIA  Glossary )


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