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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Control; formed by the U.N. and Meteorological Society in 1988 to document past climate changes and project future changes


coupled general circulation models; used to couple or combine the effects of the atmosphere and the oceans on climate

Global Warming

temperature increases in the troposphere which can in turn cause climate change; occurs due to presence of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, water vapor

Global Climate Change

refers to any aspects of the earth's climate, including temperature, precipitation and storm intensity/patterns

Positive Feedback

factors that will amplify or speed up the process of global warming as they occur; ex: warmer temp = less ice = less light/heat radiated back into atmosphere and more light/heat absorbed by ocean = warmer temperatures = less ice

Negative Feedback

factors that will dampen or slow down the process of global warming as they occur

"methane burp"

massive release of methane gas that could accompany exploration and drilling for methane hydrates under the deep ocean floor in an effort to mine natural gas deposits in hopes of burning cleaner fuels that will release less carbon dioxide

Mitigation Strategy

reduces greenhouse gas emissions to slow down the rate of temperature increase and buy time to learn more about how the earth's climate system works and to shift to other noncarbon energy options

Adaptation Strategy

recognize that some warming is unavoidable and devise strategies to reduce its harmful effects

Kyoto Protocol

more than 2200 delegates from 161 countries met in Kyoto, Japan to negotiate a treaty to help slow global warming; developed countries were called on to reduce their greenhouse emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrogen oxides by 5.2% of the 1990 levels by 2012; developing countries exempt from this first phase; U.S. did not sign


ozone depleting compounds; ex: chlorofluorocarbons (CFC's), halons, hydrobromoflurocarbons (HBFC's), methyl bromide, hydrogen chloride, etc.

Ozone Thinning

stratospheric ozone reduction due to release of ODC's; mainly ocurring over the poles (especially south pole and Antarctica)

Polar Vortex

steady winds during winter blow in circular pattern over earth's poles; huge mass of very cold air circulates over Antarctica and isolates its air from rest of atmosphere until sun returns months later; water droplets in clouds that enter the vortex form tiny ice crystals that collect and store CFC's and when sun returns these chemicals are released and begin depleting stratospheric ozone

Montreal Protocol

1987 36 nations met to cut emissions of CFC's by 35%

Copenhagen Protocol

1992; in response to information about ozone thinning above Antarctica 93 countries met to accelerate the phase out of ODC's; now 180 have signed on to phase out and ban use of many ODC's

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