A Climate Science Vocabulary


Albedo - Albedeo means "whiteness" and in climate science means the reflective power of Earth's ice, glaciers, oceans, grasslands, and so forth. The whiter an object, the greater its reflective power to reflect solar rays back into space. So a large glacier's power to reflect sunlight is much greater than a lake, forest, grassland. As CO2 density increases, Earth's albedo diminshes as glaciers and sea ice melt. Soot also reduces albedo. See the Glacier Paradox for related information.

Amazon - The Amazon rain forest indirectly connects to our Killer Oceans by reducing atmospheric greenhouse gas (CO2) and adding oxygen to the atmosphere. The rainforest acts as a major store of carbon, which becomes airborne as the forest burns. It produces enormous amounts of oxygen. The Amazon has been referred to as ‘the lungs of the Earth’ because of it affects both regional and global climate.



Equilibrium - A stabile condition. The Earth's energy balance is in a stble condition when it neither heats nor cools. Although, the Earth defaults to extreme cold without benefit of the greenhouse gases, its "blankets." Since the Industrial Revoulution, CO2 emissions entering the atmosphere forced Earth's temperature out of balance, equilibrium. That is, Earth's temperature must now catch up with new atmosheric CO2 densities. Reaching equilibrium may take hundreds if not thousands of years.

CERES - Clouds Earth's Radient Energy System (satillite)

Glacier Paradox

Scandanavian mountainers in tne later half of the 1700s question the disappearance of the glaciers. They could not explaine the random placement of giant, smoothly rounded boulders; only by surmsing that glaciers had carried these boulders for many miles while grinding them smooth could they make sense of their uniqueness. Yosemite National Park in California has similar boulders, some perched precariously atop narrow ridges. Svante Arrhenius solved the glacier paradox in 1896.

Long Wave Radiation

Radiative Forcing (RF - - Also see NASA's Energy Balance Video) - Radiative forcing is an extremely important idea in climate science. It tells us how much energy is in the atmosphere as Carbon Dioxide (CO2) density increases and decreases. Radiative forcing is the difference between sunlight energy absorbed by the earth and sunlight energy radiated back into space. It tells us what sort of temperatures future generations may expect from our atmosphere's current carbon dioxide (CO2) density; it goes to the idea that latent energy (heat) remains after CO2's removal from the atmosphere. So CO2 removed from the atmosphere does not translate to lower Earth wide cooling. Like a turkey removed from a hot oven, the turkey remains hot long after its removel. And contraily, CO2 added to Earth's atmosphere does not translate into immediate increases in Earth's heat, but more likely remains hundreds if not thousands of years later. See Wikipedia. Also see Dessler, Radiative "forcing is defined as the response to an nstantaneous change, before the temperature of the planet has adjusted to the change." Introduction to Modern Climate Change (p. 93). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.

Solar Radiation

Temperature - Earth's temperature depends on the amount of solar radiation received and retained.