Glossary of terms

Glossary of terms

The glossary of terms provides an alphabetical list of terms which defines key concepts associated with climate change .

Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment which diminishes harm. It can also include practical steps to protect countries and communities from the likely disruption and damage that will result from effects of climate change.

Climate change refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. Climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among others, that occur over several decades or longer.

A physical process or event (hydro-meteorological or oceanographic variables or phenomena) that can harm human health, livelihoods, or natural resources. 

Those practices or processes that result in the conversion of forested lands for non-forest uses. Deforestation contributes to increasing carbon dioxide concentrations for two reasons: 1) the burning or decomposition of the wood releases carbon dioxide; and 2) trees that once removed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in the process of photosynthesis are no longer present.

Disaster is a sudden, calamitous event that seriously disrupts the functioning of a community or society and causes human, material, and economic or environmental losses that exceed the community’s or society’s ability to cope using its own resources. Though often caused by nature, disasters can have human origins.

The likelihood over a specified time period of severe alterations in the normal functioning of a community or a society due to hazardous physical events interacting with vulnerable social conditions, leading to widespread adverse human, material, economic, or environmental effects that require immediate emergency response to satisfy critical human needs and that may require external support for recovery.

A drought is a period of time when an area or region experiences below-normal precipitation. The lack of adequate precipitation, can cause reduced soil moisture or groundwater, diminished stream flow, crop damage, and a general water shortage.

The set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities, and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss.

Any natural unit or entity including living and non-living parts that interact to produce a stable system through cyclic exchange of materials.

The release of a substance (usually a gas when referring to the subject of climate change) into the atmosphere.

The overflowing of the normal confines of a stream or other body of water, or the accumulation of water over areas that are not normally submerged. Floods include river (fluvial) floods, flash floods, urban floods, pluvial floods, sewer floods, coastal floods, and glacial lake outburst floods.

The recent and ongoing global average increase in temperature near the Earth’s surface.

Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases includecarbon dioxidemethanenitrousoxideozonechlorofluorocarbonshydrochlorofluorocarbonshydrofluorocarbonsperfluorocarbonssulfur hexafluoride[4]

The capacity of a social-ecological system to cope with a hazardous event or disturbance, responding or reorganizing in ways that maintain its essential function, identity, and structure, while also maintaining the capacity for adaptation, learning, and transformation.

The process of formally or informally shifting the financial consequences of particular risks from one party to another whereby a household, community, enterprise, or state authority will obtain resources from the other party after a disaster occurs, in exchange for ongoing or compensatory social or financial benefits provided to that other party.

Caribbean Policy Development Centre

The Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC) is a coalition of Caribbean non-governmental organizations.