Vocabulary and Terms Pertaining to Climate Change

Anthropogenic: Made by people or resulting from human activities. (EPA)

Climate: Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the "average weather," or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands of years. The classical period is 3 decades, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). These quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation, and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system. (EPA)

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

Community: An ecological unit composed of a group of organisms or a population of different species occupying a particular area, usually interacting with each other and their environment. Biology online

Global Warming:  An increase in temperature near the surface of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural causes. However, the term is most often used to refer to recent and ongoing warming caused by people's activities. Global warming leads to a bigger set of changes referred to as global climate change. (EPA)

Phenology: Phenology is derived from the Greek word phaino , meaning to show or appear. Phenology refers to recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, such as leafing and flowering, maturation of agricultural plants, emergence of insects, and migration of birds. It is also the study of these recurring plant and animal life cycle stages, especially their timing and relationships with weather and climate. (National Phenology Network)

Range: The geographical area within which that species can be found. Within that range, dispersion is variation in local density. Wikipedia

Range Shift: A change in the range of a species, community, or ecosystem. This can include an expansion of range, a shrinking of range, or movement of range towards a new area, and away from an old one. In the ocean, range shifts may occur vertically.

Species: A biological classification usually designating a specific group of animals that can and do interbreed, and share a wide variety of other traits, both genetic, and often physical. Within each species, there may be a sub-species, which are too similar to be separate species, but different enough in location, form, or behavior to merit a separate designation. Examples: Wolf and Coyote are two separate species. The coyote, in turn, has 19 recognized sub-species based on geographic location, and physical differences. Species are given two latin names - Canis latrans, in the case of coyotes - the first (capitalized) designating the Genus (a larger classification including several species), and the second (lowercase) designating species. For sub-species, a second species name is added, so the Northeastern Coyote (native to New England) is designated Canis latrans thamnos, or C. latrans thamnos.


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