Natural or human responses to cope with changes in climate that are already upon us, or those that are inevitable. Examples of adaptation might include the construction of dikes to hold back rising sea levels, or the northward migration of tree species, which require cooler, wetter soils.
ANNEX 1 PARTIES:
Developed countries, including most of the European Economic Union, Japan, Canada and the U.S., which, as parties to the Kyoto Protocol, would be required to meet specific targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
ANTHROPOGENIC EFFECTS (warming, climate change, etc.):
In the context of global warming, human-induced enhancement of the greenhouse effect through the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, particularly by the combustion of fossil fuels.
The estimated 600 km of gases surrounding the earth, distinguishing it from other planets in the solar system. Nitrogen and oxygen are the principal components of the atmosphere, but other atmospheric gases are critical to the balance that makes life on earth viable.
The number of species in a specific region. Biodiversity is often considered a measurement of the health of a particular eco-system, and biodiversity loss is usually considered evidence of deterioration.
The part of the earth, landmass, soils, oceans and atmosphere occupied by living organisms.
A scenario under which no measures are taken to reduce emissions, which then continue to rise at the present rate of increase.
Carbon, in various chemical forms, is exchanged between the atmosphere, the oceans, land, plants and animals in a circular fashion.
C02 is a colorless, odourless gas occurring naturally in the atmosphere. It is exhaled by humans and animals, and taken in by plants and maintained in a fairly constant balance. The balance in the atmosphere has been disrupted by the addition of massive amounts of CO2 from the combustion of fossil fuels, such as coal, oil and gas. CO2 is used as the standard for measuring greenhouse gas concentrations and impacts in the atmosphere.
Taxation measures based on increasing the cost of activities which create carbon based emissions. For instance, many environmentalists favour increased taxes on gasoline as a way of discouraging its consumption and as a way of funding the transition to other energy sources and alternatives.
A theory of mathematics used to explain unpredictable systems, which are typically very dependent on initial conditions, insofar as small errors in initial observations are amplified into huge variations in outcome. Weather is said to be chaotic because the conditions -- temperature for instance -- vary even within a small area. A small discrepancy in the value used to describe current conditions will create a large discrepancy when it is extrapolated toward a prediction. Because of this, even with advanced forecasting techniques, meteorologists are unable to predict weather much beyond a few days.
CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM:
A series of measures in the Kyoto Protocol that recognize the need for developing countries to increase their level of development, and the responsibility of developed countries to assist them in doing so with technology that will reduce the resulting emissions. The CDM is structured so that industrialized countries can earn credits for assisting developing ones to prevent emissions that might have otherwise occurred, either with financing or the direct transfer of renewable energy or appropriate technology.
Average weather for a particular region, over prolonged time scales.
See global warming and the following links:
Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention. The decision making body for negotiations on global efforts to prevent climate change. COP-3 (the second conference of the parties) was in Kyoto, Japan, where the parties drafted the Kyoto Protocol. COP-6 was in The Hague, the Netherlands in 2000, and COP-7 will be in Marrakech in 2001.
The effect created by the earth's rotation, first described by French engineer Gaspard Coriolis. In the oceans, the rotation of the earth creates "gyres" -- whirling currents at the Poles. In the atmosphere the earth's rotation creates wind.
One of Earth's irregular spheres, distinguished by negative or zero temperature and the presence of ice or super-cooled water. The term refers collectively to the portions of the Earth where water is in solid form, as snow cover, floating ice, glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, seasonally frozen ground and perennially frozen ground (permafrost).
An interdependent system of plants and animals and their physical environment.
The Kyoto Protocol allows for the trading of greenhouse gas emissions in exchange for credits, sometimes called carbon credits. The theory behind emissions trading is that emission reductions are equivalent no matter where they occur on the planet and that countries and companies will seek to reduce emissions where it is most cost effective. In practice the rules for controlling and monitoring trading have yet to be defined, and critics worry that emissions trading could be based on "hot air," phantom reductions that don't solve the problem of global warming.
Weather-related events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods that cause displacement, loss of life or property damage. Recent Canadian examples would be the ice storms in eastern Ontario and Quebec of 1998 or the Red River Flood in Manitoba in 1997.
Factors that increase or decrease the rate of a process, and are themselves affected by the result. In the context of global warming, increased temperatures might cause forest fires in the boreal forest, which would then release CO2 in the atmosphere, enhancing the greenhouse effect and contributing to further temperature increases. A factor that increases the rate of change is said to be a "positive feedback." One that decreases the rate of change is said to be a "negative feedback." Certain phenomena can induce both negative and positive feedbacks. For instance, the smoke from the forest fires could potentially produce a kind of cloud cover that prevents surface warming.
Carbon-based fuels, such as coal, natural gas and petroleum, derived from the decomposed remains of ancient plant and animals, usually underground or in the ocean floor, where they have been under pressure for millions of years. Fossil fuels release carbon dioxide when they are burned.
The concept that the planet is currently warming as a result of a enhanced greenhouse effect caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. See Greenhouse.
GREAT CONVEYOR BELT:
A name given by scientists to the process by which warmer water is moved toward the poles in ocean currents, which then cools and sink to the bottom, and is returned back to the low latitudes where it originated, much like a conveyor belt. The Gulf Stream, along the western Atlantic, is an example of this phenomenon.
Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario. They contain 20% of the world's freshwater. Manitoba's large bodies of freshwater -- Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg -- are great lakes too.
GREENHOUSE (effect, gases, etc.):
The Greenhouse Effect is a phenomenon first described in 1827 by French mathematician Fourier. Trace gases in the atmosphere, act like the panes on a greenhouse by permitting solar radiation to pass through to the earth's surface, and then absorbing or trapping the heat that radiates back from the earth's surface. This effect makes life on earth viable. Without it, scientists estimate that the earth would be, on average, 33 degrees Celsius colder. The effect is commonly misunderstood as being the source of global warming, which generally refers to an Enhanced Greenhouse Effect caused by an imbalance of greenhouse gases, due to human activity. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide (CO2) methane (CH4) nitrous oxide (N2O) chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's) and tropospheric ozone (O3). Carbon dioxide accounts for 55% of the change in intensity of the greenhouse effect. Water vapour is the most prevalent greenhouse gas.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The scientific body appointed by the United Nations to assess climate change and report on its findings. It is divided into working groups.
A set of interim targets and measures for the stabilization of greenhouse gases drafted at the Second Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention (UNFCC) in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997. The UNFCC established the goal of stabilizing greenhouse gases at 1990 levels, while the Kyoto Protocol sets out a series of reduction targets for industrialized nations to meet by 2012. Signatories that formally ratify the Kyoto Protocol will be legally bound to reduce their emissions below 1990 levels by an average of 5%. Most of the UNFCC signatories have yet to ratify Kyoto.
Reducing the impacts or severity of climate change. Mitigation can involve the direct reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, or the introduction of measures to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere (e.g. iron fertilization of oceans).
Climatologists use computer models of varying complexity to predict the impacts of global warming. The models run on an estimated 140 supercomputers at various locations around the globe, using different climate parameters and assumptions.
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. OECD members are mostly the highly developed economic powers in the world. They are responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions.
The study of prehistoric climates. Paleoclimatology provides the basis for understanding current climate and forecasting future climate change. One of the tools of paleoclimatologists, who study the characteristics of climate over historic and geological time scales, are ice cores. The greenhouse gases in the ice cores taken from glaciers and ice sheets, particularly in Antarctica, help scientists to compare the climate from various geological periods with the climate change that is likely as gas levels elevate.
Sources of energy that are not finite like coal, oil and gas. Renewable energy usually refers to energy developed without the consumption of fossil fuel, and in a manner that could be sustained were it to be applied globally. Wind and solar generation of electricity is considered renewable. Hydro-electric generation is controversial, since some consider large scale dams and diversions to be unsustainable, and only consider smaller scale, run of the river and micro-turbine hydro-electric generation to be renewable.
The storage of carbon in so-called sinks -- forests, wetlands, permafrost, soil and oceans. Carbon is sequestered, but may be released either when the ecosystem is disrupted, as in forest fires or drainage, or when the sink surpasses its capacity to absorb any more carbon. Some scientists worry that as sinks reach their capacity, a "runaway greenhouse effect" might occur in which the release of carbon from sinks causes warming that in turn further deteriorates the sink's capacity to sequester carbon.
U V W X Y Z
A group of signatories to the United Nations Framework Climate Change Convention that emerged during the negotiation of the Kyoto Protocol. The group included the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The group tended to disagree with another group of Annex 1 countries called the "Group of 77," which are primarily European Economic Union members. Another bloc of countries is known as AOSIS, the Alliance of Small Island States, which are threatened by rising sea levels.
Atmospheric conditions at a particular place and time, including temperature, humidity, precipitation, wind velocity and direction and air pressure.
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