2019: Weather Ready Homes
CLIMATE CHANGE GLOSSARY:
- Weather: Atmospheric condition at any given time or place. It is measured in terms of things such as wind, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloudiness, and precipitation.
- Climate: Climate can be defined as the “average weather,” or the statistical description of conditions over a long period of time. A simple way of remembering the difference between “weather” and “climate” is that climate is what you expect (e.g. cold winters) and ‘weather’ is what you get (e.g. a blizzard).
- 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 that occur over several decades or longer.
- Global Warming: The recent and ongoing global average increase in temperature near the Earth’s surface.
- Heat Waves: A prolonged period of excessive heat, often combined with excessive humidity in Philadelphia.
- Greenhouse Effect: The trapping and build-up of heat in the atmosphere near the Earth’s surface. Greenhouse gases prevent heat from leaving the atmosphere, radiating it back toward the Earth’s surface. If the atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases rise, the average temperature of the lower atmosphere gradually increases.
- Greenhouse Gas: Any gas that absorbs infrared radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, ozone, etc.
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2): A naturally occurring gas, and also a byproduct of burning fossil fuels and biomass, as well as land-use changes and other industrial processes. It is the main human-caused greenhouse gas that affects the Earth’s radiative balance.
- Methane (CH4): A greenhouse gas with a very high warming potential. Methane is produced through decomposition of waste in landfills, animal digestion, decomposition of animal wastes, production and distribution of natural gas and petroleum, coal production, and incomplete fossil fuel combustion.
- Ozone (O3): When it forms near Earth’s surface, ozone is a harmful pollutant. Surface ozone is created through photochemical reactions resulting from both natural and human activities. Ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas. Ozone that is farther away from the Earth’s surface (in the stratosphere) has a more helpful impact – it prevents too much ultraviolet radiation from reaching Earth’s surface.
- Energy Efficiency: Using less energy to provide the same service.
- Renewable Energy: Energy resources that naturally replenish themselves when used, such as water (hydropower), the sun (solar energy), the Earth (geothermal energy), and wind energy.
- Vulnerability: The degree to which a system (such as the City of Philadelphia) is susceptible to the adverse effects of climate change. The vulnerability of the system depends on the character, magnitude, and rate of climate variation that the system is exposed to, as well as its sensitivity and its ability to adapt.
(Definitions adapted from: “Glossary of Climate Change Terms,” Environmental Protection Agency)