Climate Menu for Adriatic Regions

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Glossary

A

Adaptation

Strategies that allow us to live with and adapt to some of the impacts of climate change.

Adaptative Capacity

Societies’ ability to prepare and respond to current and future climate impacts.

Albedo

The fraction of light reflected by an object, or surface, compared to the one that affects it.

Atmosphere

A set of layers of gases surrounding a planet or other material body, that is held in place by the gravity of that body. An atmosphere is more likely to be retained if the gravity it is subject to is high and the temperature of the atmosphere is low. The atmosphere of Earth is composed of Nitrogen (about 78%), Oxygen (about 21%), Argon (about 0.9%), Carbon Dioxide (0.03%) and other gases in trace amounts.

B

Beach nourishment

The actions of restoration of sandy marine stretches, but also lagoon and river, through the action of carrying volumes of sand with the same characteristics of the site concerned.

Biodiversity

The variety and variability among living organism and the ecological complexes in which they occur.

Biosphere

Earth’s surface layer where the environmental conditions allow the development of life.

C

Carbon dioxide

Colourless, odourless, inert gas naturally present in the atmosphere at limited concentrations. It is part of natural biogeochemical cycles, as a result of the organic molecules’ oxidation. It is generated by cellular respiration, combustion or decomposition of organic molecules and it contributes to the natural greenhouse effect. Chemical formula CO₂.

Climate

Average meteorological conditions over a reference period.

Climate action

Activity aimed at resolving or meeting a need identified by an entity operating in that territory (local government or another actor).

  • Green: action based on ecosystem approach
  • Grey: infrastructural and technological action.
  • Soft: non-structural action, based on human behavior and governance styles.

Climate Change (CC)

Climate change recorded over a period of time of 30 years, at least. According to UNFCCC, this definition includes a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.

Climate Crisis

The current magnitude and relative consequences of Climate Change.

Climate hazard

Potential occurrence of a natural or anthropogenic physical event, or trend, or impact that could result in loss of life, injury, or other health impacts, as well as damage to or loss of property, infrastructure, livelihoods, service provision, ecosystems, and environmental resources. In the climate context, this term refers to physical events associated with climate or trends or their physical impacts.

Climate Models (GCM or RCM)

Global Climate Models (GCM) or Regional Climate Models (RCM), are programs that simulate the climate’s behavior, making the value of quantities such as temperature and precipitation evolve over time.

Climate neutrality (or carbon neutrality)

Achieving a balance between carbon emissions and absorption. In order to achieve this objective, the emission of greenhouse gases must be counterbalanced by the absorption of carbon emissions.

Climate Risk

The potential associated with consequences, where something is at stake and the outcome is uncertain, recognizing the diversity of values. Risk is frequently represented as the probability of occurrence of a hazardous event or trend multiplied by the impacts should those events or trends occur. Climate risk results from the interaction between vulnerability, exposure, and the source of the hazard.

Climate variability

The variations in the mean state and other statistics of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales, beyond individual weather events. It is often used to denote deviations of climatic statistics over a given period of time (e.g. a month, season or year) when compared to long-term statistics for the same calendar period.

Coastal erosion

The result of a process, or series of natural or induced processes, that changes shorelines’ morphology resulting in a loss of surface area of the emerged and submerged land, and thus also of sediment volume, over a given time interval relative to mean sea level.

Conference of the Parties (COP)

The supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

D

Decarbonisation

Transition to a low-carbon economy through a reduction in energy consumption and the replacement of renewable energy sources to fossil fuels (e.g.: conversion of coal or petroleum power plants into power plants using renewable energy sources).

Deforestation

The removal of a forest, or stand of trees, from land that is then converted to non-forest use. Deforestation can involve conversion of forest land to farms, ranches, or urban use.

Degrowth

Term used for political, economic, and social movement as well as a set of theories that critiques the paradigm of economic growth. Degrowth emphasizes the need to reduce global consumption and production and advocates a socially just and ecologically sustainable society with well-being replacing GDP as the indicator of prosperity.

Desertification

A type of land degradation in drylands in which biological productivity is lost due to natural processes or induced by human activities whereby fertile areas become increasingly arid. It is the spread of arid areas caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change (particularly the current global warming) and overexploitation of soil as a result of human activity.

E

Ecological crisis

Deterioration of man and the environment relationships

Ecological Footprint

The ecological footprint is a complex indicator used to assess human consumption of natural resources relative to the Earth’s ability to regenerate them.

Ecology

A branch of biology concerning the spatial and temporal patterns of the distribution and abundance of organisms, including the causes and consequences.

Ecosystem

A community of living organisms in conjunction with the non-living components of their environment, interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows.

Emissions

Pollutants, of anthropogenic or natural origin, released into the atmosphere in gaseous or particulate form. They are measured in kilograms and tons.

Emissions’ scenario

Plausible representation of the future development of substances’ emissions that are potentially radiatively active (e.g., greenhouse gases and aerosols), based on a consistent set of assumptions (such as demographic and socioeconomic development and technological change) and their key relationships. Concentration scenarios, derived from emission scenarios, are used as inputs to climate models, to calculate climate projections.

Energy efficiency

The goal to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services. Improvements in energy efficiency are generally achieved by adopting a more efficient technology or production process or by application of commonly accepted methods to reduce energy losses.

Energy Transition

Transition to sustainable economies, through the use of renewable energy and the adoption of energy conservation and sustainable development techniques.

Evapotranspiration (ET)

The amount of water (per unit of time) that passes from the ground into the air in the vapor state due to the combined effect of transpiration, through plants, and evaporation, directly from the ground.

Exposure (to climate hazard sources)

Nature and degree to which a system is exposed to significant climatic variations.

Extreme events

Events of particular importance from a meteorological point of view, such as periods of intense heat or cold, prolonged periods of drought or rain, tornadoes, tropical cyclones and waterspouts.

F

Flooding

Phenomenon concerning the flooding in a short time (from hours to days) of a well-defined and usually subaerial area by a mass of water. It can be a natural phenomenon, such as the overflow of watercourses from their usual bed or basin in a violent and devastating manner, or flooding due to the combined action of high tides and typhoons in coastal areas, the arrival of a tsunami on a coast, or even the sudden melting of snowfields or glaciers due to natural causes.

Fossil fuel

Substance that burns in air providing thermal energy. It derives from the transformation of the organic material, developed in millions of years, in more stable and rich forms of carbon (ex.: petroleum, coal, natural gas).

G

Global warming

Change in the Earth’s climate developed from the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century and still ongoing, characterized in general by an increase in global average temperature and atmospheric phenomena associated with it (e.g. increase of extreme phenomena related to the water cycle such as floods, droughts, desertification, melting ice, rising oceans, and changes in atmospheric circulation patterns with heat waves, cold waves, etc.).

Governance

The set of principles, rules, and procedures regarding the management and governance of a company, institution, or collective phenomenon.

Greenhouse effect

The process by which radiation from a planet’s atmosphere warms the planet’s surface to a temperature above what it would be without this atmosphere. Radiatively active gases (i.e., greenhouse gases) in a planet’s atmosphere radiate energy in all directions. Part of this radiation is directed towards the surface, thus warming it. The intensity of downward radiation – that is, the strength of the greenhouse effect – depends on the amount of greenhouse gases that the atmosphere contains. The temperature rises until the intensity of upward radiation from the surface, thus cooling it, balances the downward flow of energy.

Greenhouse gases

Gases of natural or anthropogenic origin that cause the greenhouse effect. The production of anthropogenic gases alters the normal thermal balance of the planet, causing global warming. The main greenhouse gases are: water vapor (H₂O), carbon dioxide (CO₂), nitrous oxide (N₂O), methane (CH₄), hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), sulfur hexafluoride (SF₆) and ozone (O₃) in the lower atmosphere.

H

Habitat

The natural environment in which an animal or plant species is found living.

Heat waves

Heat waves are extreme weather conditions that occur during the summer season, characterized by high temperatures, above the usual values, which can last for days or weeks.

Hydrogeological instability

Geomorphological processes having a heavy disruptive action in terms of land degradation, such as soil erosion, landslides, flooding, etc. These processes are caused by extreme meteorological conditions and climate variations amplified by anthropic causes (improper land use, overbuilding, deforestation).

I

Ice Age

Indicates a long period of time (100,000 years) in the Earth's climatic history, when there is a strong development of the ice caps on the Earth's surface, due to a general lowering of the global average temperature.

Indicator

Instrument capable of measuring the trend of a phenomenon that is considered representative for the analysis being carried out. Used to monitor or evaluate the degree of success or adequacy of the activities implemented.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The main international body for the evaluation of scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide on Climate Change. Established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

L

Loss of biodiversity

Destruction, degradation and fragmentation of habitats caused both by natural disasters (such as fires, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, floods, etc.) and by profound changes in the territory conducted by man (e.g.: destruction of natural habitats to make way for productive activities).

M

Mean Sea Level

An average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which heights, such as elevation, may be measured. The global MSL is standardized geodetic datum that is used as a chart datum in cartography and marine navigation, or, in aviation.

Meteorology

Science that studies the Earth’s atmosphere and the phenomena (dynamic, thermodynamic, optical, electrical, etc.) that occur in it.

Methane

A simple hydrocarbon consisting of one carbon atom and four hydrogen atoms; it is found in nature in the form of a gas. It is part of the greenhouse gases, in lower concentrations than CO₂ but with a high global warming potential. Chemical formula CH₄.

Mitigation

Set of activities aimed at reducing human impact on climate change through the containment and/or absorption of greenhouse gas emissions.

N

Nitrogen oxides

NOx is a generic acronym that collectively identifies all nitrogen oxides and their mixtures that are produced as by-products during combustion using air. They are produced in nature mainly by lightning and volcanic eruptions, but they are also of anthropogenic origin, for example as a product of heating systems. They are pollutants in the atmosphere: they can contribute to the formation of photochemical smog and acid rain.

Non-renewable energy sources

Raw materials that are extracted from underground and are present on Earth in limited quantities. This includes fossil fuels and some radioactive materials such as uranium.

O

Ocean acidification

pH value decreasing due to ocean intake of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere. About a quarter of the CO2 in the atmosphere ends up in the oceans where it turns into carbonic acid (H2CO3). Increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere corresponds to an increase of that dissolved in the oceans.

Oceanography

Science that studies the sea, both in its geological, physical and chemical characteristics, and in its biological aspect.

Ozone

It is present in the upper layers of the atmosphere, concentrated mainly at 25 km height where the ozone layer is present, produced by the reaction between NOx and sunlight. It is considered a greenhouse gas and variations in its concentration affect both the radiation coming from the Sun and from the Earth. Chemical formula O₃.

P

Particulate matter

The set of solid or liquid substances suspended in the air (with which they form a mixture called “atmospheric aerosol”) that have sizes ranging from a few nanometers to 100 µm.

Permafrost

Soil typical of cold regions, e.g., far northern Europe, Siberia, and North America where the ground is perpetually frozen (not necessarily with masses of frozen water present).

R

Reforestation

Process by which an area that has long been unvegetated or previously unforested is covered with trees and shrubs suitable for that area, which are usually the native species.

Renewable energy sources

Sources of energy available continuously and in such quantities as not to be subject to depletion considering their regeneration time. The main ones include solar, wind, biomass, hydro and geothermal power.

Resilience

Ability of a system to adapt to change.

S

Sensitivity

The degree to which a system or species is affected, either negatively or positively, by variability from climate change. The effect may be direct (e.g., a change in crop yield in response to a change in average or variable temperature) or indirect (e.g., damage caused by an increase in the frequency of coastal flooding due to sea level rise).

Stakeholder

Indicates any individual, or group of them, who affects, or is affected by, a given issue and who has a right and/or expectation to be involved in a changing process affecting the given issue.

Sustainable Development

Defined by the 1987 Brundtland Report as “that development which enables the present generation to meet its own needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.”

U

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The international environmental treaty addressing climate change, negotiated and signed by 154 states at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Kyoto Protocol was the first implementation of measures under the UNFCCC until 31 December 2020. The protocol was superseded by the Paris Agreement, which entered into force in 2016.

V

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC)

Class of chemical compounds whose molecules contain several functional groups: such compounds have uneven physical and chemical behaviours, but they have in common a high volatility. This is common such as for paint thinners and petrol thinners, liquid hydrocarbons, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)

Vulnerability

The probability of an environmental or human system to be damaged because it is not sufficiently capable of resisting the cause of the possible damage. In the climate context it is defined by the capacity and vulnerability of a system subject to the effects of climate change.
© 2021 Agenzia per l'Energia del Friuli Venezia Giulia