Climate Terms

We help you understand climate.

We know you want to do your part to reduce greenhouse gases. To do that, you need to understand some key terms often used to describe our planet's climate. 

Baseline emissions: Emissions of greenhouse gases that are not changed by human intervention

Cap: Mandated restraint as an upper limit on emissions. It is often used in reference to a cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Carbon credit: Carbon credit is used in emission trading, where one credit gives the owner the right to emit one ton of CO2.

Carbon dioxide equivalent: A  measure used to compare the emissions from various greenhouse gases based upon their global warming potential (GWP) compared to carbon dioxide.

Carbon footprint: The total amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by an organization, event or production process.

Carbon neutral: Where an individual or company's carbon emissions are effectively reduced to zero through a combination of processes.

Carbon sequestration: The storage of carbon to prevent it from being in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide.

Carbon offset: An investment in a project that will lead to the prevention or removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere

Climate: The long term average of daily weather.

Climate lag: The delay that occurs in climate change as a result of some factor that changes very slowly.

Greenhouse effect: When certain wavelengths of energy (heat) that is escaping from earth to space is slowed in  escape by the absorption and re-emission of this energy by greenhouse gases.

Negative feedback mechanism: An outcome in nature that reduces a change in climate.

Net Zero: The balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. Net zero occurs when the amount of greenhouse gases added are no more than the amount taken away.

Paleoclimatology: Study of ancient climates.

Positive feedback process: An outcome in nature that reinforces a change in climate

Radiation: Waves of energy that are produced by all objects.