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Climate Hustle

2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #38B

Posted on 20 September 2014 by John Hartz

2014 on track to be hottest year on record

Just days after NASA data showed that August 2014 was the warmest August on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed the ranking and raised the ante: There’s a good chance 2014 could become the warmest year on record.

“If we continue a consistent departure from average for the rest of 2014, we will edge out 2010 as the warmest year on record,” said Jake Crouch, a climatologist with NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, during a press briefing Thursday.

Specifically, if each of the remaining months of the year ranks among the top five warmest, 2014 will take the top spot, he said.

2014 on Track to be Hottest Year on Record by Andrea Thomsposn, Climate Central, Sep 18, 2014

Arctic Sea Ice to reach sixth lowest extent on record

As summer draws to a close, the Arctic sea ice melt season is coming to an end. And while the season didn’t top 2012’s astounding record melt, it has still resulted in what will likely be the sixth lowest September minimum ice extent on record.

The extent of the ice on Sept. 15 was 1.96 million square miles, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC), and wasn’t expected to change much over the coming days. That extent was 11,600 square miles below last year’s summer minimum and 440,000 square miles below the 1981-2010 average. The 2012 minimum reached 1.32 million square miles.

“It hasn’t been a super interesting summer, that’s for sure,” said NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve. But it fits in with what she calls “the new climate regime,” fueled by greenhouse gas-driven warming. 

Arctic Sea Ice to Reach Sixth Lowest Extent on Record by Andrea Thompson, Climate Central, Sep 17, 2014

China's dirty coal ban causes waves

To its critics it has confirmed their views, and to its investors it is all a monumental media beat-up.

Either way, China's decision to ban imports of poorer quality thermal coal, which is used mostly to generate electricity, and to cut imports generally by 50 million tonnes by year's end throws more fuel on the fire of the climate change debate – and coal's role.

And coming ahead of a new round of UN climate change talks in New York next week, the timing of the announcement is impeccable. But as with many things in China, even though the decision is portrayed as aiming to improve local air quality, at its core are efforts to bail out its troubled local coal miners and power generators as its economy continues to weaken.

China says it will ban from January 1 the importing of coal with more than 16 per cent ash and 3 per cent sulphur to the Yangtze River Delta near Shanghai  and the Pearl River Delta near Hong Kong. They will join the conurbation of Beijing-Tianjin that already has the tougher restrictions in place.

China's dirty coal ban causes waves by Brian Robins, Sydney Morning Herald, Sep 20, 2014

"If we want to prevent conflicts, we have to address climate change now"

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited world leaders from government, business and civil society to a Climate Summit in New York on 23 September. UN’s climate chief Christiana Figueres told DW what she expects. 

Figueres: "If we want to prevent conflicts, we have to address climate change now" by Irene Quaile, Deutsche Welle (DW), Sep 18, 2014

India's push for renewable energy: Is it enough?

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will skip the United Nations climate summit happening in New York City next week just ahead of his first official U.S. visit.

But India still faces steadfast international pressure to deliver action on climate change, even as Modi promises to bolster the energy supply in a country where more than 300 million people lack access to electricity.

Growing economies like China and India, which are set to contribute more than half of the global increase in carbon emissions in the next 25 years, will play a critical role in any effort to address climate change. 

India's Push for Renewable Energy: Is It Enough? by Shruti Ravindran, National Geographic News, Sep 19, 2014

Latin America at a climate crossroads

World leaders gathered at the Climate Change Summit during the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 23 will have a crucial opportunity to mobilise political will and advance solutions to climate change.

They will also need to address its closely connected challenges of increasing access to sustainable energy as a key tool to secure and advance gains in the social, economic and environmental realms.

This is more important than ever for Latin America and the Caribbean. Even though the region is responsible for a relatively low share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, 12 percent, according to U.N. figures, it will be one of the most severely affected by temperature spikes, according a World Bank Report. 

Latin America at a Climate Crossroads, Analysis by Susan McDade, Internaqtional Press Service (IPS), Sep 20, 2014  

Michael Bloomberg Presses the Case for Urban Action

I recently had a chance to ask former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg about the fresh push he’s making for urban action to blunt climate impacts and greenhouse gas emissions as the new United Nations Special Envoy for Cities and Climate Change. He’ll be a very busy man next week, as the city hosts the People’s Climate March, a U.N. “summit” on climate change and Climate Week.

The full interview is in OnEarth, a magazine published by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Here are several of the question and answers, followed by a link to the rest:

Michael Bloomberg, Now a U.N. Climate Envoy, Presses the Case for Urban Action by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times, Sep 19, 2014

Obama delays key power plant rule of signature climate change plan

Barack Obama applied the brakes to the most critical component of his climate change plan on Tuesday, slowing the process of setting new rules cutting carbon pollution from power plants, and casting a shadow over a landmark United Nations’ summit on global warming.

The proposed power plant rules were meant to be the signature environmental accomplishment of Obama’s second term.

The threat of a delay in their implementation comes just one week before a heavily anticipated UN summit where officials had been looking to Obama to show leadership on climate change.

In a conference call with reporters, the Environmental Protection Agency said it was extending the public comment period on the power plant rules for an additional 45 days, until 1 December.

Obama delays key power plant rule of signature climate change plan by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Sep 16, 2014

Prince Charles will tell leaders climate action is ‘only rational choice’ 

Action on climate change is not bad for business, it is “the only rational choice”, Prince Charles will tell a summit of world leaders meeting to discuss the issue. In a video message to the UN climate summit in New York next week, the prince will also say that it will not be possible to meet the climate change challenge unless business and government work together.

The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, whose members include Coca Cola Enterprises, EDF, Jaguar Land Rover, Philips and Tesco, is urging governments to use the summit to accelerate action on tackling climate change. The business group is calling for politicians to be more ambitious in international negotiations on a new climate treaty, which it is hoped can be agreed in Paris next year, and to commit to concrete actions to drive down greenhouse gas emissions.

Prince Charles will tell leaders climate action is ‘only rational choice’, Press Association, The Guardian, Sep 17, 2014

Record sea ice around Antarctica due to global warming

IT JUST gets bigger. The extent of the sea ice around Antarctica has hit a record high – for the third year running. Counter-intuitively, global warming is responsible.

Since satellite records began in 1979, the winter maximum sea ice cover around Antarctica has been growing at 1.5 per cent per decade. This year has long been on track for a new annual record, with 150 daily records already set.

The record was finally broken on 15 September and sea ice extent has increased since, according to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center analysed by Australia's Bureau of Meteorology in Hobart.

More sea ice may seem odd in a warmer world, but new records are expected every few years, says Jan Lieser of the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre in Hobart. That's because the southern hemisphere warms more slowly than the north, as it has less landmass, boosting the winds that circle Antarctica and pulling cold air onto the sea ice.

Record sea ice around Antarctica due to global warming, New Scientist, Sep 17, 2014

The silence on climate change is deafening. It's time for us to get loud

All of Dr Seuss’s children’s books – or, at least, the best ones – are sly, radical humanitarian and environmental parables. That’s why, for example, The Lorax was banned in some Pacific Northwest districts where logging was the chief economy.

Or there’s Horton Hears a Who: if you weren’t a child (or reading to a child) recently, it’s about an elephant with acute hearing who hears a cry from a dust speck. He comes to realize the dust speck is a planet in need of protection, and does his best for it.

Of course, all the other creatures mock – and then threaten – Horton for raising an alarm over something they can’t see. (Dissent is an easy way to get yourself ostracized or worse, as any feminist receiving online death threats can remind you.) And though Seuss was reportedly inspired by the situation in post-war Japan  when he wrote the book, but its parable is flexible enough for our time. 

The silence on climate change is deafening. It's time for us to get loud by Rebecca Solnit, Comment is Free, The Guardian, Sep 17, 2014

Three ways to build deep public support on climate change

The People’s Climate March will take place this weekend but public support for climate change campaigns has waned. Now is the time to re-invigorate momentum.

Three ways to build deep public support on climate change by Adam Corner, The Guardian, Sep 18, 2014

US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit

US will not commit to climate change aid for poor nations at UN summit by Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian, Sep 20, 2014

U.S. putting climate-changing chemicals on ice

Say bye, bye, to chemicals that chill your frozen pie.

The U.S. is making it clear as ice that it intends to continue moving forward with efforts to clamp down on the use of hydrofluorocarbons, known as HFCs, which are chemicals that helped save the ozone layer — but have put the climate in jeopardy.

The chemicals were developed for use in fridges, air conditioning systems and other products after ozone-damaging chemicals used for cooling were effectively banned in the 1980s under the Montreal Protocol, an international environmental agreement. But as HFCs leak out of those appliances, they become greenhouse gases that trap thousands of times more heat than carbon dioxide.

U.S. Putting Climate-Changing Chemicals on Ice by John Upton, Climate Central, Sep 16, 2014

Why climate science denial courtesy of the NY Post measures five miles high

Thanks to a column that ran in the New York Post  a few days ago I think I might now know the physical size of climate science denial – it’s about 500 cubic kilometres.

For those still working in imperial measurements (that’s you America), this is about 120 cubic miles.

The New York Post column by two climate science denialists claimed that “the ice caps aren’t melting”.

Yet a recent assessment published in March 2014 in the journal The Cryosphere  used new satellite measurements to estimate that the world’s major ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica are now shrinking at the rate of about 500 cubic kilometres a year.

That’s a lot of ice to deny is melting. Perhaps they missed it because it’s gone?

Why climate science denial courtesy of the New York Post measures five miles high by Graham Readfearn, Planet OZ, The Guardian, Sep 20, 2014

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Comments 1 to 9:

  1. Thankyou for the article. If 2014 turns out to be the hottest year on record, or even just in the top three, while being a weak el nino or just a normal year this all strongly supports the entire globaly warming theory.

    What mystifies me is why we have not had a decent el nino for some time. is the warming trend changing the frequency of the el nino? This seems possibe given el nino relates to ocean currents, and extra heat energy is being pumped into the oceans.

    Would theory or modelling suggest fewer but maybe larger el ninos? 

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    Moderator Response:

    [Rob P] - the wind-driven ocean circulation in the Northern Hemisphere has spun down. This means the poleward export of heat from the tropics is weaker-than-normal. Now you might expect this to cool the mid-to-high latitudes, but that's not the case. Why? Because the subtropical gyres are areas of convergence (downwelling) and the subpolar gyres areas of divergence (upwelling).

    With strong tropical trade winds and mid-latitudes westerlies, there's a greater volume of heat transport out of the tropics, more heat is mixed down in the subtropical gyres, and more cold water drawn up to the surface in the subpolar gyres. Guess what happens when the winds weaken? The reverse - weaker transport of heat out of the tropics, weaker downwelling of heat in the subtropical gyres, and warming of the subpolar gyres as less cold water is drawn up from the deep there.

    What we're seeing with the record sea surface temperatures, is largely confined to the Northern Hemisphere. If this spreads to the Southern Hemisphere, and the whole system spins down, we're entering probably entering the positive phase of the Interdecadal Pacific Oscillation (IPO). Something worth keeping an eye out for. Still early days though.

  2. nigelj:

    Also see: 

    El Niño is Kinda Sorta Maybe Here by Brian Kahn, Climate Central, Sep 18, 2014

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  3. Its very interesting that in Australia (apologies for this post being Aus-centric) before this news came out about 2014 the deniers have been running this ruse that Australia's Bureau of Meteorology weather station records can't be trusted. Its almost as if they knew they wouldn't be able to keep up the ruse about the world not warming for the past how-many-years and this latest ruse is very well timed to blunt any data coming out about rising temps.

    You might call me paranoid but if I was a denier its what I would do.

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  4. How can a denier like Motl be considered a physicist
    and continue insulting people aware of the greenhouse effect?
    Look at his ignorant reply to my comment

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  5. correcting the above link:

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  6. giulio8 @4, Lubos Motl is "considered" a physicist because he has a PhD in physics and has made contributions to string theory.  He even, for three years, held an Assistant Professorship at Harvard.  None of that has any bearing on whether or not he is in denial about anthropogenic changes to climate.

    On the other hand, he has political opinions so right wing that he wrote regarding the mass murder of young Norwegian members of the labour party:

    "At any rate, I don't think that today, in 2011, there exists a problem in Europe that could even remotely justify the killing of dozens of this young people who attend a summer camp. ...  I may speculate and I often speculate about the future in which tough decisions may have to be made to avert threats that are worse than anything we are seeing today but this mass murder didn't occur in the future. It occurred a few days ago and given this fact, it's unforgivable."

    Do not over interpret that.  He also wrote (in the space of the elipsis), "Sorry but this looks unforgivable to me - unforgivable at the level of a death penalty which doesn't exist in Norway" and earlier wrote:

    "The mass murder itself remains shocking for me. It is both scary as well as incomprehensible. I just don't understand what the young people affiliated with the Labor Party who are having fun on some summer youth camp - and perhaps some random people on the street of Oslo - have to do with all the ambitious political plans. They were innocent children and young people, weren't they?"

    So like any decent person he was shocked by Breivik's horrific acts.  But not so shocked that he could not see a legitimate political role for them in the future.

    I will state categorically that there is no political trajectory from any center left (or center right) party in Europe that would ever justify taking up arms against it; and no trajectory from any party ever that justifies murdering civilians as the primary target of the attack.  Ever!

    That Motl can contemplate current political trajectories in Europe as, in the future, justifying such acts shows him to be contemptible, and his thought on politically related matters (including on science that touches on politics) to be beneath contempt.  As with Monckton, the fact that the climate denier community do not disown Motl shows how low they have sunk.

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  7. Deniers -either deliberately or through ignorance - confuse temperature (by which they usually mean atmospheric temperatures) with heat. Since the heat budget is what really matters in all but the short term, the denial side gets an easy ride on this point because any weather related scenario can occur regardless of the way the heat content of the planet itself is increasing.

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  8. Wol @7, the important equation is ΔF = λΔT + ΔQ, where ΔF is the change in forcing relative to a particular time, λ is the climate sensitivity factor, with units of W/m^2 per degree Kelvin, ΔT is the change in temperature relative to that time, ΔQ is the change of heat flux into the earth system (of which 90% goes into the ocean).  As ΔT appears in the equation as well as ΔQ, it is as important as ΔQ.  The denier error is focussing on the change in temperature to the exclusion of the change in heat content.  Infact, if anything you have the situation reversed in that in the short term temperature is largely irrelevant, wheras in the long term it controlls the response to changes in forcing.  However, this is certainly correct at the moment:

    "[The] denial side gets an easy ride on this point because any weather related scenario can occur regardless of the way the heat content of the planet itself is increasing."

    Bear in mind, however, that up until 2008 the public presentation of climate science was itself focussed on temperatures and it was the deniers calling attention to ocean heat content due to misinterpretted and cherry picked attention to OHC results after 2004 and above 750 meters depth.

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  9. Tom Curtis @6

    Thanks for answering!

    Let me just to complete your description with more updated news, when you write "He even, for three years, held an Assistant Professorship at Harvard":

    Motl has *not* published a *single* paper there or anywhere else since 2007, when he split from Harvard, when he *lost* his job and has *not* held a university position since! From a better link:

    It's important to be *honest* and clearly show the *incompetence* of this (climate change denier) blogger.

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