Global Warming Effects Around the World

Global Warming Glossary *


General Circulation Model (GCM) - See climate model.

Generalist - A species that can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions.

Geo-engineering - Technological efforts to stabilize the climate system by direct intervention in the energy balance of the Earth for reducing global warming

Glacier - A mass of land ice that flows downhill under gravity (through internal deformation and/or sliding at the base) and is constrained by internal stress and friction at the base and sides. A glacier is maintained by accumulation of snow at high altitudes, balanced by melting at low altitudes or discharge into the sea. See Equilibrium line; Mass balance.   ► Mountain glacier - ice that flows down mountain valleys and ends on land, in a lake, or in the ocean (where it becomes known as a tidewater glacier).

Global dimming - Global dimming refers to perceived widespread reduction of solar radiation received at the surface of the Earth from about the year 1961 to around 1990.

Globalization - The growing integration and interdependence of countries worldwide through the increasing volume and variety of cross-border transactions in goods and services, free international capital flows, and the more rapid and widespread diffusion of technology, information and culture.

Global surface temperature - The global surface temperature is an estimate of the global mean surface air temperature. However, for changes over time, only anomalies, as departures from a climatology, are used, most commonly based on the area-weighted global average of the sea surface temperature anomaly and land surface air temperature anomaly.

Global warming - Global warming refers to the increase, observed or projected, in global surface temperature, as one of the consequences of radiative forcing caused by human-induced emissions.

Global Warming Potential (GWP) - An index, based upon radiative properties of well-mixed heat-trapping gases (greenhouse gases), measuring the radiative forcing of a unit mass of a given well-mixed greenhouse gas in the present-day atmosphere integrated over a chosen time horizon, relative to that of carbon dioxide. The GWP represents the combined effect of the differing times these gases remain in the atmosphere and their relative effectiveness in absorbing outgoing thermal infrared radiation. The Kyoto Protocol is based on GWPs from pulse emissions over a 100-year time frame.

Governance - The way government is understood has changed in response to social, economic and technological changes over recent decades. There is a corresponding shift from government defined strictly by the nation-state to a more inclusive concept of governance, recognizing the contributions of various levels of government (global, international, regional, local) and the roles of the private sector, of non-governmental actors and of civil society.

Green accounting - Attempts to integrate into macroeconomic studies a broader set of social welfare measures, covering e.g., social, environmental, and development oriented policy aspects. Green accounting includes both monetary valuations that attempt to calculate a 'green national product' with the economic damage by pollutants subtracted from the national product, and accounting systems that include quantitative non-monetary pollution, depletion and other data.

Greenhouse effect - Heat-trapping gases (greenhouse gases) effectively absorb thermal infrared radiation, emitted by the Earth's surface, by the atmosphere itself due to the same gases, and by clouds. Atmospheric radiation is emitted to all sides, including downward to the Earth's surface. Thus, greenhouse gases trap heat within the surface-troposphere system. This is called the greenhouse effect. Thermal infrared radiation in the troposphere is strongly coupled to the temperature of the atmosphere at the altitude at which it is emitted. In the troposphere, the temperature generally decreases with height. Effectively, infrared radiation emitted to space originates from an altitude with a temperature of, on average, -19°C, in balance with the net incoming solar radiation, whereas the Earth's surface is kept at a much higher temperature of, on average, +14°C. An increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases leads to an increased infrared opacity of the atmosphere, and therefore to an effective radiation into space from a higher altitude at a lower temperature. This causes a radiative forcing that leads to an enhancement of the greenhouse effect, the so-called enhanced greenhouse effect.

Greenhouse Gas (GHG) - Geenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of thermal infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface, the atmosphere itself, and by clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Water vapor (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 sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)- Gross Domestic Product is the monetary value of all goods and services produced within a nation.

Gross National Product (GNP) - Gross National Product is the monetary value of all goods and services produced in a nation's economy, including income generated abroad by domestic residents, but without income generated by foreigners.

Gross Primary Production (GPP) - The amount of energy fixed from the atmosphere through photosynthesisls.

Gross World Product - An aggregation of the individual country's Gross Domestic Products to obtain the sum for the world.

Ground ice - All types of ice contained in freezing and seasonally frozen ground and permafrost.

Ground temperature - The temperature of the ground near the surface (often within the first 10 cm). It is often called soil temperature.

Grounding line/zone - The junction between a glacier or ice sheet and ice shelf; the place where ice starts to float.

Groundwater recharge - The process by which external water is added to the zone of saturation of an aquifer, either directly into a formation or indirectly by way of another formation.

Gyre - Basin-scale ocean horizontal circulation pattern with slow flow circulating around the ocean basin, closed by a strong and narrow (100-200 km wide) boundary current on the western side. The subtropical gyres in each ocean are associated with high pressure in the centre of the gyres; the subpolar gyres are associated with low pressure.


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).