Global Warming Effects Around the World

Global Warming Glossary *


Barrier - Any obstacle to reaching a goal, adaptation or mitigation potential that can be overcome or attenuated by a policy, program, or measure. Barrier removal includes correcting market failures directly or reducing the transactions costs in the public and private sectors by e.g. improving institutional capacity, reducing risk and uncertainty, facilitating market transactions, and enforcing regulatory policies.

Basin - The drainage area of a stream, river or lake.

Benthic community - The community of organisms living on or near the bottom of a water body such as a river, a lake or an ocean.

Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) - The amount of dissolved oxygen consumed by micro-organisms (bacteria) in the bio-chemical oxidation of organic and inorganic matter in waste water.

Biocovers - Layers placed on top of landfills that are biologically active in oxidizing methane into CO2.

Biodiversity - The total diversity of all organisms and ecosystems at various spatial scales (from genes to entire biomes).

Bioenergy - Energy derived from biomass.

Biofilters - Filters using biological material to filter or chemically process pollutants like oxidizing methane into CO2.

Biofuel - Any liquid, gaseous, or solid fuel produced from plant or animal organic matter. E.g. soybean oil, alcohol from fermented sugar, black liquor from the paper manufacturing process, wood as fuel, etc.   ► Second-generation biofuels are products such as ethanol and biodiesel derived from ligno-cellulosic biomass by chemical or biological processes.

Biological options - Biological options for mitigation of climate change involve one or more of the three strategies: conservation - conserving an existing carbon pool, thereby preventing CO2 emissions to the atmosphere; sequestration—increasing the size of existing carbon pools, thereby extracting CO2 from the atmosphere; substitution - substituting biomass for fossil fuels or energy-intensive products, thereby reducing CO2 emissions.

Biomass - The total mass of living organisms in a given area or volume; dead plant material can be included as dead biomass. Biomass includes products, by-products and waste derived from such material.  ►Cellulosic biomass is biomass from cellulose, the primary structural component of plants and trees.

Biome - A biome is a major and distinct regional element of the biosphere, typically consisting of several ecosystems (e.g. forests, rivers, ponds, and swamps within a region). Biomes are characterized by typical communities of plants and animals.

Biosphere (terrestrial and marine) - The part of the Earth system comprising all ecosystems and living organisms, in the atmosphere, on land (terrestrial biosphere) or in the oceans (marine biosphere), including derived dead organic matter, such as litter, soil organic matter and oceanic detritus.

Biota - All living organisms of an area; the flora and fauna considered as a unit.

Black carbon - Operationally defined aerosol species based on measurement of light absorption and chemical reactivity and/or thermal stability; consists of soot, charcoal and/or possible light absorbing refractory organic matter.

Bog - Peat-accumulating acidic wetland.

Boreal forest - Forests of pine, spruce, fir and larch stretching from the east coast of Canada westward to Alaska and continuing from Siberia westward across the entire extent of Russia to the European Plain. The climate is continental, with long, very cold winters (up to 6 months with mean temperatures below freezing), and short, cool summers (50 to 100 frost-free days). Precipitation increases during summer months, although annual precipitation is still small. Low evaporation rates can make this a humid climate. See taiga.

Breakwater - A hard engineering structure built in the sea which, by breaking waves, protects a harbor, anchorage, beach or shore area. A breakwater can be attached to the coast or lie offshore.


Glossaries of the contributions of Working Groups I, II and III to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report 2007.

Nakićenović, N., J. Alcamo, G. Davis, B. de Vries, J. Fenhann, S. Gaffin, K. Gregory, A. Grübler, T.Y. Jung, T. Kram, E.L. La Rovere, L. Michaelis, S. Mori, T. Morita, W. Pepper, H. Pitcher, L. Price, K. Raihi, A. Roehrl, H.-H. Rogner, A. Sankovski, M. Schlesinger, P. Shukla, S. Smith, R. Swart, S. van Rooijen, N. Victor and Z. Dadi, 2000: Emissions Scenarios: A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, and New York, 599 pp.

* Definitions adapted from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report 2007 and the Dictionary of Geological Terms Third Edition. 1984. Bates and Jackson (Eds).