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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2012
  • Online publication date: August 2012

Annex II - Glossary of Terms

from Section IV

Summary

Abrupt climate change

The nonlinearity of the climate system may lead to abrupt climate change, sometimes called rapid climate change, abrupt events, or even surprises. The term abrupt often refers to time scales faster than the typical time scale of the responsible forcing. However, not all abrupt climate changes need be externally forced. Some changes may be truly unexpected, resulting from a strong, rapidly changing forcing of a nonlinear system.

Adaptation

In human systems, the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects, in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, the process of adjustment to actual climate and its effects; human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate.

Adaptation assessment

The practice of identifying options to adapt to climate change and evaluating them in terms of criteria such as availability, benefits, costs, effectiveness, efficiency, and feasibility.

Adaptive capacity

The combination of the strengths, attributes, and resources available to an individual, community, society, or organization that can be used to prepare for and undertake actions to reduce adverse impacts, moderate harm, or exploit beneficial opportunities.

Aerosols

A collection of airborne solid or liquid particles, with a typical size between 0.01 and 10 μm, that reside in the atmosphere for at least several hours. Aerosols may be of either natural or anthropogenic origin. Aerosols may influence climate in several ways: directly through scattering and absorbing radiation, and indirectly by acting as cloud condensation nuclei or modifying the optical properties and lifetime of clouds.