Global Warming Effects Around the World

Global Warming Glossary *


Walker Circulation - Direct thermally driven zonal overturning circulation in the atmosphere over the tropical Pacific Ocean, with rising air in the western and sinking air in the eastern Pacific.

Water consumption - Amount of extracted water irretrievably lost during its use (by evaporation and goods production). Water consumption is equal to water withdrawal minus return flow.

Water mass - A volume of ocean water with identifiable properties (temperature, salinity, density, chemical tracers) resulting from its unique formation process. Water masses are often identified through vertical or horizontal extremes of a property such as salinity.

Water productivity - The ratio of crop seed produced per unit water applied. In the case of irrigation, see Irrigation water-use efficiency. For rain-fed crops, water productivity is typically 1 metric ton (~2,205 pounds) per 100 millimeters (~4 inches).

Water stress - A country is water-stressed if the available freshwater supply relative to water withdrawals acts as an important constraint on development. Withdrawals exceeding 20% of renewable water supply have been used as an indicator of water stress. A crop is water-stressed if soil-available water, and thus actual evapotranspiration, is less than potential evapotranspiration demands.

Water-use efficiency - Carbon gain in photosynthesisls per unit water lost in evapotranspiration. It can be expressed on a short-term basis as the ratio of photosynthetic carbon gain per unit transpirational water loss, or on a seasonal basis as the ratio of net primary production or agricultural yield to the amount of available water.

Welfare - An economic term used to describe the state of well-being of humans on an individual or collective basis. The constituents of well-being are commonly considered to include materials to satisfy basic needs, freedom and choice, health, good social relations, and security.

Wetland - A transitional, regularly waterlogged area of poorly drained soils, often between an aquatic and a terrestrial ecosystem, fed from rain, surface water or groundwater. Wetlands are characterized by a prevalence of vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.


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).