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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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Regional Co-ordinating Unit

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.

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.

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 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.

See "Developing World."

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.

Terrestrial Ecosystems Branch

Harmful to living organisms.

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

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).

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

United Nations Conference on the Human Environment

United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea

United Nations Conference on Desertification

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

United Nations Development Programme

United Nations Disaster Relief Organization

United Nations Environment Programme

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

United Nations Population Fund

United Nations Children's Fund

United Nations Industrial Development Organization

United Nations Institute for Training and Research

United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation

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.

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.

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.

(UN) World Health Organization

World Industry Conference on Environmental Management

(UN) World Meteorological Organization