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NYO - Glossary of environmental terms
Category: Meteorology and astronomy > Glossary of environmental terms
Date & country: 16/11/2010, US
Words: 147


Pesticide
A substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. Pesticides can accumulate in the food chain and/or contaminate the environment if they are misused.

pH
An expression of both acidity and alkalinity on a scale of zero to 14, with seven representing neutrality; numbers less than seven indicate increasing acidity and numbers greater than seven indicate increasing alkalinity. Acid rain can increase the pH level of the water in a lake, thereby killing all life.

Photosynthesis
The manufacture by plants of carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll, using sunlight as an energy source. Plants thereby absorb carbon from the atmosphere with the process, and store it in their forms.

Phytoplankton
Usually microscopic aquatic plants, sometimes consisting of only one cell.

Plankton
Those organisms that are unable to maintain their position or distribution independent of the movement of water or air masses.

Pollution
The contamination of a natural ecosystem, especially with reference to the activity of humans.

Precipitation
Any and all forms of water, whether liquid or solid, that fall from the atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface. A day with measurable precipitation is a day when the water equivalent of the precipitation is equal to or greater than 0.2 mm.

RCU
Regional Co-ordinating Unit

Recyclable
Refers to such products as paper, glass, plastic, oil and metals that can be reprocessed into products again instead of being disposed of as waste.

Reforestation
The process of reestablishing a forest on previously cleared land.

Renewable resources
Natural resources that have the capacity to be naturally replenished despite being harvested (e.g., forests, fish). The supply of natural resources can, in theory, never be exhausted, usually because it is continuously produced.

Resource
A person, thing, or action that is used to produce a desired affect or product, usually for meeting human needs or improving the quality of life.

Septic Tank
An tank (usually kept underground) that is used to hold domestic wastes when a sewer line is not available to carry them to a treatment plant. It stores the solid waste until bacteria breaks it down and the relatively clean water is absorbed by the ground.

Sinks
Sinks remove gases from the atmosphere either by destroying them through chemical processes or storing them in some other form. Carbon dioxide is often stored in ocean water, plants, or soils, from where it can be released at a later time.

Smog (photochemical smog)
Literally a contraction of "smoke" and "fog"; the colloquial term used for photochemical fog, which includes ozone and numerous other contaminants. Smog is usually adds a brownish haze to the atmosphere.

South
See "Developing World."

Stratosphere
The layer of the atmosphere between about 10 and 40 km above the Earth's surface within which temperatures rise with altitude. The stratosphere contains 90 per cent of the atmosphere's ozone (O3).

Sustainable development
Development that ensures that the use of resources and the environment today does not compromise their use in the future.

TEB
Terrestrial Ecosystems Branch

Toxic
Harmful to living organisms.

Transnational corporation
A corporation that is not based in any one country but may maintain corporate offices in several countries.

Troposphere
Layer of the atmosphere that contains about 95 per cent of the Earth's air and extends about six to 17 km up from the Earth, depending upon latitude and season.

Ultraviolet Radiation (UV)
Electromagnetic radiation in the wavelength range of 200 to 400 nanometres. (Also known as ultraviolet light).

UNCED
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (The Earth Summit)

UNCHE
United Nations Conference on the Human Environment

UNCLS
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

UNCOD
United Nations Conference on Desertification

UNCTAD
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

UNDP
United Nations Development Programme

UNDRO
United Nations Disaster Relief Organization

UNEP
United Nations Environment Programme

UNESCO
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

UNFPA
United Nations Population Fund

UNICEF
United Nations Children's Fund

UNIDO
United Nations Industrial Development Organization

UNITAR
United Nations Institute for Training and Research

UNSCEAR
United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

UNSO
United Nations Sudano-Sahelian Office

Urban runoff
Storm water from city streets and adjacent domestic or commercial properties that may carry pollutants of various kinds into the sewer systems and from there to rivers, lakes or oceans.

VOC (volatile organic compound)
The term used to describe the organic gases and vapours that are present in the air. They are believed to be involved in ground-level ozone formation. Some VOCs are toxic air pollutants.

Wastewater
Water that carries wastes from homes, businesses, and industries. It is usually a mixture of water and dissolved or suspended solids.

Wastewater treatment plant
A facility containing a series of tanks, screens, filters, and other processes by which pollutants are removed from water.

Water Quality
A term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water with respect to its suitability for a particular use.

Wetlands
Lands where water saturation is the dominant factor that determines the nature of soil development and the types of plant and animal communities living in the surrounding environment. Other common names for wetlands are bogs, ponds, estuaries and marshes.

WHO
(UN) World Health Organization

WICEM
World Industry Conference on Environmental Management

WMO
(UN) World Meteorological Organization