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2012 SkS Weekly News Round-Up #8

Posted on 5 November 2012 by John Hartz

This is a a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about climate change and its impacts throughout the globe. A key pragraph has been extracted verbatim from each article in order to provide insight into the article's content. Readers are encouraged to add relevant articles in the comment thread.  

Adaptation & Mitigation

Sandy, by contrast, has been pretty straightforward. It’s hit rich, poor, and middle class Americans with nearly equal power, though of course the affluent always have it easier in the aftermath of tragedy. Government officials prepared forthrightly for its arrival, and have refrained from paralysis and bickering in its wake. Which allows us to concentrate on the only really useful message it might deliver: that we live in a changed world, where we need both to adapt to the changes, and to prevent further changes so great that adaptation will be impossible.

A Grim Warning from Science by Bill McKibben, NYR Blog, The New York Review of Books, Nov 1, 2012

Still, making New York's subways watertight would be an "engineering feat equal to the scale and creativity of the original construction (of the system itself)," said Lucius Riccio, New York City's former Transportation Commissioner and lecturer at Columbia University.

Crippled NY subways spark infrastructure, climate questions by David Ariosto, CNN, Nov 3, 2012

If, as climate experts say, sea levels in the region have not only gradually increased, but are also likely to get higher as time goes by, then the question is: What is the way forward? Does the city continue to build ever-sturdier and ever-higher sea walls? Or does it accept the uncomfortable idea that parts of New York will occasionally flood and that the smarter method is to make the local infrastructure more elastic and better able to recover?

Protecting the City, Before Next Time by Alan Feuer, New York Times, Nov 3, 2012


Climate change could significantly depress yields of maize, wheat and rice, constrain supplies of animal protein, and force a rethink of diets and the crops farmers grow, researchers said on Wednesday.

Food switch could offset climate threat to staples - study by Megan Rowling, Alertnet, Oct 31, 2012

Climate Services

A U.N. meteorological body has approved a framework for managing climate predictions to advise policy-makers and locals on crop production, infrastructure planning and disease management.

"Climate Services" Go Global by Daniel Cressey and Nature magazine, Scientific American, Nov 2, 2012

Global Action

If efforts so far to win a global consensus for action on climate change aren’t working, what might do the job instead? 

How about putting more women, youth and members of civil society on country negotiating teams? Or helping climate-hit countries sue for damages through the International Court of Justice? Or switching to simple majority voting at the U.N. climate talks rather than demanding unanimity on all decisions?

Climate Conversations - How to shake up global climate action? by Laurie Goering, Alertnet, Oct 31, 2012 

Global Security

There is a more insidious and destructive global security threat that is more dangerous and sinister than international terrorism, since this threat “will act as an accelerant of instability” in already problematic regions of the world.

Climate change is new global security threat, says US report, Buisiness Mirror (Phillipines), Nov 3, 2012 

Health Care

As the world’s climate continues to change, hazards to human health are increasing.The Atlas of Health and Climate, published today jointly by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), illustrates some of the most pressing current and emerging challenges.

Atlas of Health and Climate launches new collaboration between public health and meteorological communities, Joint WMO/WHO Press Release, Oct 29, 2012 

Hurricane Sandy

Sandy, a massive “superstorm,” unleashed high winds and large-scale flooding in New York and New Jersey—and the future holds more such damaging surges

The Science behind Superstorm Sandy’s Crippling Storm Surge by Dvid Biello, Scientific American, Nov 2, 2012

Massive investments in deep water drilling, tar sands and new oil and gas extraction technologies such as horizontal fracturing are driving production levels to new highs. An analysis by Oil Change International found that those investments by fossil fuel companies and their backers put the planet on the path for temperatures to rise at least eight degrees Celsius.

Hurricane Sandy a Taste of More Extreme Weather to Come by Stepehn Leahy, Inter Press Servi e (IPS), Nov 2, 2012

Sandy said things no candidate in America could voice without blowing away their own political career. She said: "Enough! Wake up. Take a reality check. And if you don't get it, it will get you; then you'll get it."

Sandy said what presidential candidates were afraid to say by Carl Safina, Special to CNN, Nov 3, 2012

Public Opinion

People are more likely to believe that humans cause global warming if they are told that 97% of publishing climate scientists agree that it does, a new study has found.

Scientific consensus shifts public opinion on climate change by Sunanda Creagh, The Conversation, Oct 29, 2012


The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews.

U.S. Satellite Plans Falter, Imperiling Data on Storms by John H. Cushman Jr., New York Times, Oct 26, 2012

Urban Growth

Iskandar Malaysia, the first “smart metropolis” of Southeast Asia founded on principles of social integration as well as low carbon emissions thanks to a green economy and green technologies, is a potential template for urban development in emerging countries with burgeoning populations, international experts say.

Iskandar. Malaysia may offer model for urban growth, ScienceBlog, Nov 3, 2012

US Flood Insurance Program

Flood planning is based on historical data rather than future projections. And much of the infrastructure damaged in a storm is rebuilt exactly the same way, without taking into account the climatic changes underway.

Flood risk will rise with climate change, experts say by Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, Nov 1, 1012

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  1. Regarding "Crippled NY subways spark infrastructure, climate questions" article, with a quote about making NYC subways water-tight: "[it would be] engineering feat equal to the scale and creativity of the original construction" That's an interesting point, because it looks to me that crippled subways contributed very large (if not largest) chunk of Sandy's damage bill. And growing as the service restoration time is still unknown... But how about this news: Inflatable Plug Could Have Stopped NYC Subway Flooding It's important, because for me, it looks like subways are the weakest link of NYC infrastructure. Does anyone find this plausible/reasonable to implement? Or NYC subways will be eventually inundated forever, as we can expect Sandy-like storms every 2 years now? Unless they find something to hold water off, they won't be able to repair this sort of damage every two years and must eventually abandon the system...
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