2011-12-06 07:54:21Skeptical Science Glossary
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
24.213.18.68

This is an initial attempt at a glossary.  Feel free to add any terms you wish, as long as you also nominate a definition (plus a link to the primary source used for that definition).  I'll then update this top comment with the Glossary until we get near enough to completion to warrant a blog post.


Skeptical Science Glossary of Climate Terms and their Definitions

2011-12-06 10:13:23
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Temperature anomaly: (Per NOAA)

What is a temperature anomaly?

The term “temperature anomaly” means a departure from a reference value or long-term average. A positive anomaly indicates that the observed temperature was warmer than the reference value, while a negative anomaly indicates that the observed temperature was cooler than the reference value.

What can the mean global temperature anomaly be used for?

This product is a global-scale climate diagnostic tool and provides a big picture overview of average global temperatures compared to a reference value.

Why use temperature anomalies (departure from average) and not absolute temperature measurements?

Absolute estimates of global average surface temperature are difficult to compile for several reasons. Some regions have few temperature measurement stations (e.g., the Sahara Desert) and interpolation must be made over large, data-sparse regions. In mountainous areas, most observations come from the inhabited valleys, so the effect of elevation on a region’s average temperature must be considered as well. For example, a summer month over an area may be cooler than average, both at a mountain top and in a nearby valley, but the absolute temperatures will be quite different at the two locations. The use of anomalies in this case will show that temperatures for both locations were below average.

Using reference values computed on smaller [more local] scales over the same time period establishes a baseline from which anomalies are calculated. This effectively normalizes the data so they can be compared and combined to more accurately represent temperature patterns with respect to what is normal for different places within a region.

For these reasons, large-area summaries incorporate anomalies, not the temperature itself. Anomalies more accurately describe climate variability over larger areas than absolute temperatures do, and they give a frame of reference that allows more meaningful comparisons between locations and more accurate calculations of temperature trends.

2011-12-06 10:41:15Daniel Bailey
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

My recommendation is that we import the Glossary from Annex I of the IPPC's AG4 report, "Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis" and the Acronyms from Annex IV of that report. Both can be accessed here. Doing so will provide us with two Christmas trees to hang SkS ornaments on.  

2011-12-06 11:35:43I'll work on this as I have the chance
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

A-D

8.2ka event Following the last post-glacial warming, a rapid climate oscillation with a cooling lasting about 400 years occurred about 8.2 ka. This event is also referred to as the 8.2kyr event.

Abrupt climate change The nonlinearity of the climate system may lead to abrupt climate change, sometimes called rapid climate change, abrupt events or even surprises. The term abrupt often refers to time scales faster than the typical time scale of the responsible forcing. However, not all abrupt climate changes need be externally forced. Some possible abrupt events that have been proposed include a dramatic reorganisation of the thermohaline circulation, rapid deglaciation and massive melting of permafrost or increases in soil respiration leading to fast changes in the carbon cycle. Others may be truly unexpected, resulting from a strong, rapidly changing forcing of a nonlinear system.

Active layer The layer of ground that is subject to annual thawing and freezing in areas underlain by permafrost (Van Everdingen, 1998).

Adiabatic process An adiabatic process is a process in which no external heat is gained or lost by the system. The opposite is called a diabatic process.

Adjustment time See Lifetime; see also Response time.

Advection Transport of water or air along with its properties (e.g., temperature, chemical tracers) by the motion of the fluid. Regarding the general distinction between advection and convection, the former describes the predominantly horizontal, large-scale motions of the atmosphere or ocean, while convection describes the predominantly vertical, locally induced motions.

Aerosols A collection of airborne solid or liquid particles, with a typical size between 0.01 and 10 µm that reside in the atmosphere for at least several hours. Aerosols may be of either natural or anthropogenic origin. Aerosols may influence climate in several ways: directly through scattering and absorbing radiation, and indirectly by acting as cloud condensation nuclei or modifying the optical properties and lifetime of clouds (see Indirect aerosol effect).

Afforestation Planting of new forests on lands that historically have not contained forests. For a discussion of the term forest and related terms such as afforestation, reforestation and deforestation, see the IPCC Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (IPCC, 2000). See also the report on Definitions and Methodological Options to Inventory Emissions from Direct Human-induced Degradation of Forests and Devegetation of Other Vegetation Types (IPCC, 2003).

Air mass A widespread body of air, the approximately homogeneous properties of which (1) have been established while that air was situated over a particular region of the Earth’s surface, and (2) undergo specific modifications while in transit away from the source region (AMS, 2000).

Albedo The fraction of solar radiation reflected by a surface or object, often expressed as a percentage. Snow-covered surfaces have a high albedo, the surface albedo of soils ranges from high to low, and vegetation-covered surfaces and oceans have a low albedo. The Earth’s planetary albedo varies mainly through varying cloudiness, snow, ice, leaf area and land cover changes.

Albedo feedback A climate feedback involving changes in the Earth’s albedo. It usually refers to changes in the cryosphere, which has an albedo much larger (~0.8) than the average planetary albedo (~0.3). In a warming climate, it is anticipated that the cryosphere would shrink, the Earth’s overall albedo would decrease and more solar radiation would be absorbed to warm the Earth still further.

Alkalinity A measure of the capacity of a solution to neutralize acids.

Altimetry A technique for measuring the height of the sea, lake or river, land or ice surface with respect to the centre of the Earth within a defined terrestrial reference frame. More conventionally, the height is with respect to a standard reference ellipsoid approximating the Earth’s oblateness, and can be measured from space by using radar or laser with centimetric precision at present. Altimetry has the advantages of being a geocentric measurement, rather than a measurement relative to the Earth’s crust as for a tide gauge, and of affording quasi-global coverage.

Annular modes Preferred patterns of change in atmospheric circulation corresponding to changes in the zonally averaged mid-latitude westerlies. The Northern Annular Mode has a bias to the North Atlantic and has a large correlation with the North Atlantic Oscillation. The Southern Annular Mode occurs in the Southern Hemisphere. The variability of the mid-latitude westerlies has also been known as zonal flow (or wind) vacillation, and defined through a zonal index. For the corresponding circulation indices, see Box 3.4.

Anthropogenic Resulting from or produced by human beings.

Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation (AMO) A multi-decadal (65 to 75 year) fluctuation in the North Atlantic, in which sea surface temperatures showed warm phases during roughly 1860 to 1880 and 1930 to 1960 and cool phases during 1905 to 1925 and 1970 to 1990 with a range of order 0.4°C.

Atmosphere The gaseous envelope surrounding the Earth. The dry atmosphere consists almost entirely of nitrogen (78.1% volume mixing ratio) and oxygen (20.9% volume mixing ratio), together with a number of trace gases, such as argon (0.93% volume mixing ratio), helium and radiatively active greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (0.035% volume mixing ratio) and ozone. In addition, the atmosphere contains the greenhouse gas water vapour, whose amounts are highly variable but typically around 1% volume mixing ratio. The atmosphere also contains clouds and aerosols.

Atmospheric boundary layer The atmospheric layer adjacent to the Earth’s surface that is affected by friction against that boundary surface, and possibly by transport of heat and other variables across that surface (AMS, 2000). The lowest 10 metres or so of the boundary layer, where mechanical generation of turbulence is dominant, is called the surface boundary layer or surface layer.

Atmospheric lifetime See Lifetime.

Attribution See Detection and attribution.

Autotrophic respiration Respiration by photosynthetic organisms (plants).

Bayesian method A Bayesian method is a method by which a statistical analysis of an unknown or uncertain quantity is carried out in two steps. First, a prior probability distribution is formulated on the basis of existing knowledge (either by eliciting expert opinion or by using existing data and studies). At this first stage, an element of subjectivity may influence the choice, but in many cases, the prior probability distribution is chosen as neutrally as possible, in order not to influence the final outcome of the analysis. In the second step, newly acquired data are introduced, using a theorem formulated by and named after the British mathematician Bayes (1702–1761), to update the prior distribution into a posterior distribution.

Biomass The total mass of living organisms in a given area or volume; dead plant material can be included as dead biomass.

Biome A biome is a major and distinct regional element of the biosphere, typically consisting of several ecosystems (e.g. forests, rivers, ponds, swamps within a region). Biomes are characterised by typical communities of plants and animals.

Biosphere (terrestrial and marine) The part of the Earth system comprising all ecosystems and living organisms, in the atmosphere, on land (terrestrial biosphere) or in the oceans (marine biosphere), including derived dead organic matter, such as litter, soil organic matter and oceanic detritus.

Black carbon (BC) Operationally defined aerosol species based on measurement of light absorption and chemical reactivity and/or thermal stability; consists of soot, charcoal and/or possible light-absorbing refractory organic matter (Charlson and Heintzenberg, 1995, p. 401).

Blocking anticyclone An anticyclone that remains nearly stationary for a week or more at middle to high latitudes, so that it blocks the normal eastward progression of high- and low-pressure systems.

Bowen ratio The ratio of sensible to latent heat fluxes from the Earth’s surface up into the atmosphere. Values are low (order 0.1) for wet surfaces like the ocean, and greater than 2 for deserts and drought regions.

Burden The total mass of a gaseous substance of concern in the atmosphere.

13 Stable isotope of carbon having an atomic weight of approximately 13. Measurements of the ratio of 13C/12C in carbon dioxide molecules are used to infer the importance of different carbon cycle and climate processes and the size of the terrestrial carbon reservoir.

14 Unstable isotope of carbon having an atomic weight of approximately 14, and a half-life of about 5,700 years. It is often used for dating purposes going back some 40 kyr. Its variation in time is affected by the magnetic fields of the Sun and Earth, which influence its production from cosmic rays (see Cosmogenic isotopes).

C3 plants Plants that produce a three-carbon compound during photosynthesis, including most trees and agricultural crops such as rice, wheat, soybeans, potatoes and vegetables.

C4 plants Plants that produce a four-carbon compound during photosynthesis, mainly of tropical origin, including grasses and the agriculturally important crops maize, sugar cane, millet and sorghum.

Carbonaceous aerosol Aerosol consisting predominantly of organic substances and various forms of black carbon (Charlson and Heintzenberg, 1995, p. 401).

Carbon cycle The term used to describe the flow of carbon (in various forms, e.g., as carbon dioxide) through the atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere and lithosphere.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) A naturally occurring gas, also a by-product of burning fossil fuels from fossil carbon deposits, such as oil, gas and coal, of burning biomass and of land use changes and other industrial processes. It is the principal anthropogenic greenhouse gas that affects the Earth’s radiative balance. It is the reference gas against which other greenhouse gases are measured and therefore has a Global Warming Potential of 1.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) fertilization The enhancement of the growth of plants as a result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration. Depending on their mechanism of photosynthesis, certain types of plants are more sensitive to changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration. In particular, C3 plants generally show a larger response to CO2 than C4 plants.

CFC See Halocarbons.

Chaos A dynamical system such as the climate system, governed by nonlinear deterministic equations (see Nonlinearity), may exhibit erratic or chaotic behaviour in the sense that very small changes in the initial state of the system in time lead to large and apparently unpredictable changes in its temporal evolution. Such chaotic behaviour may limit the predictability of nonlinear dynamical systems.

Charcoal Material resulting from charring of biomass, usually retaining some of the microscopic texture typical of plant tissues; chemically it consists mainly of carbon with a disturbed graphitic structure, with lesser amounts of oxygen and hydrogen (Charlson and Heintzenberg, 1995, p. 402). See Black carbon; Soot.

Chronology Arrangement of events according to dates or times of occurrence.

Clathrate (methane) A partly frozen slushy mix of methane gas and ice, usually found in sediments.

Climate Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system. In various chapters in this report different averaging periods, such as a period of 20 years, are also used.

Climate change Climate change refers to a change in the state of the climate that can be identified (e.g., by using statistical tests) by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer. Climate change may be due to natural internal processes or external forcings, or to persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or in land use. Note that the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in its Article 1, defines climate change as: ‘a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods’. The UNFCCC thus makes a distinction between climate change attributable to human activities altering the atmospheric composition, and climate variability attributable to natural causes. See also Climate variability; Detection and Attribution.

Climate change commitment Due to the thermal inertia of the ocean and slow processes in the biosphere, the cryosphere and land surfaces, the climate would continue to change even if the atmospheric composition were held fixed at today’s values. Past change in atmospheric composition leads to a committed climate change, which continues for as long as a radiative imbalance persists and until all components of the climate system have adjusted to a new state. The further change in temperature after the composition of the atmosphere is held constant is referred to as the constant composition temperature commitment or simply committed warming or warming commitment. Climate change commitment includes other future changes, for example in the hydrological cycle, in extreme weather and climate events, and in sea level change.

Climate feedback An interaction mechanism between processes in the climate system is called a climate feedback when the result of an initial process triggers changes in a second process that in turn influences the initial one. A positive feedback intensifies the original process, and a negative feedback reduces it.

Climate Feedback Parameter A way to quantify the radiative response of the climate system to a global surface temperature change induced by a radiative forcing (units: W m–2 °C–1). It varies as the inverse of the effective climate sensitivity. Formally, the Climate Feedback Parameter (Λ) is defined as: Λ = (ΔQ – ΔF) / ΔT, where Q is the global mean radiative forcing, T is the global mean air surface temperature, F is the heat flux into the ocean and Δ represents a change with respect to an unperturbed climate.

Climate model (spectrum or hierarchy) A numerical representation of the climate system based on the physical, chemical and biological properties of its components, their interactions and feedback processes, and accounting for all or some of its known properties. The climate system can be represented by models of varying complexity, that is, for any one component or combination of components a spectrum or hierarchy of models can be identified, differing in such aspects as the number of spatial dimensions, the extent to which physical, chemical or biological processes are explicitly represented, or the level at which empirical parametrizations are involved. Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) provide a representation of the climate system that is near the most comprehensive end of the spectrum currently available. There is an evolution towards more complex models with interactive chemistry and biology (see Chapter 8). Climate models are applied as a research tool to study and simulate the climate, and for operational purposes, including monthly, seasonal and interannual climate predictions.

Climate prediction A climate prediction or climate forecast is the result of an attempt to produce an estimate of the actual evolution of the climate in the future, for example, at seasonal, interannual or long-term time scales. Since the future evolution of the climate system may be highly sensitive to initial conditions, such predictions are usually probabilistic in nature. See also Climate projection; Climate scenario; Predictability.

Climate projection A projection of the response of the climate system to emission or concentration scenarios of greenhouse gases and aerosols, or radiative forcing scenarios, often based upon simulations by climate models. Climate projections are distinguished from climate predictions in order to emphasize that climate projections depend upon the emission/concentration/radiative forcing scenario used, which are based on assumptions concerning, for example, future socioeconomic and technological developments that may or may not be realised and are therefore subject to substantial uncertainty.

Climate response See Climate sensitivity.

Climate scenario A plausible and often simplified representation of the future climate, based on an internally consistent set of climatological relationships that has been constructed for explicit use in investigating the potential consequences of anthropogenic climate change, often serving as input to impact models. Climate projections often serve as the raw material for constructing climate scenarios, but climate scenarios usually require additional information such as about the observed current climate. A climate change scenario is the difference between a climate scenario and the current climate.

Climate sensitivity In IPCC reports, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric equivalent carbon dioxide concentration. Due to computational constraints, the equilibrium climate sensitivity in a climate model is usually estimated by running an atmospheric general circulation model coupled to a mixed-layer ocean model, because equilibrium climate sensitivity is largely determined by atmospheric processes. Efficient models can be run to equilibrium with a dynamic ocean.

The effective climate sensitivity is a related measure that circumvents the requirement of equilibrium. It is evaluated from model output for evolving non-equilibrium conditions. It is a measure of the strengths of the climate feedbacks at a particular time and may vary with forcing history and climate state. The climate sensitivity parameter (units: °C (W m–2)–1) refers to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a unit change in radiative forcing.

The transient climate response is the change in the global surface temperature, averaged over a 20-year period, centred at the time of atmospheric carbon dioxide doubling, that is, at year 70 in a 1% yr–1 compound carbon dioxide increase experiment with a global coupled climate model. It is a measure of the strength and rapidity of the surface temperature response to greenhouse gas forcing.

Climate shift or climate regime shift An abrupt shift or jump in mean values signalling a change in regime. Most widely used in conjunction with the 1976/1977 climate shift that seems to correspond to a change in El Niño-Southern Oscillation behavior.

Climate system The climate system is the highly complex system consisting of five major components: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the land surface and the biosphere, and the interactions between them. The climate system evolves in time under the influence of its own internal dynamics and because of external forcings such as volcanic eruptions, solar variations and anthropogenic forcings such as the changing composition of the atmosphere and land use change.

Climate variability Climate variability refers to variations in the mean state and other statistics (such as standard deviations, the occurrence of extremes, etc.) of the climate on all spatial and temporal scales beyond that of individual weather events. Variability may be due to natural internal processes within the climate system (internal variability), or to variations in natural or anthropogenic external forcing (external variability). See also Climate change.

Cloud condensation nuclei (CCN) Airborne particles that serve as an initial site for the condensation of liquid water, which can lead to the formation of cloud droplets. See also Aerosols.

Cloud feedback A climate feedback involving changes in any of the properties of clouds as a response to other atmospheric changes. Understanding cloud feedbacks and determining their magnitude and sign require an understanding of how a change in climate may affect the spectrum of cloud types, the cloud fraction and height, and the radiative properties of clouds, and an estimate of the impact of these changes on the Earth’s radiation budget. At present, cloud feedbacks remain the largest source of uncertainty in climate sensitivity estimates. See also Cloud radiative forcing; Radiative forcing.

Cloud radiative forcing Cloud radiative forcing is the difference between the all-sky Earth’s radiation budget and the clear-sky Earth’s radiation budget (units: W m–2).

CO2-equivalent See Equivalent carbon dioxide.

Confidence The level of confidence in the correctness of a result is expressed in this report, using a standard terminology defined in Box 1.1. See also Likelihood; Uncertainty.

Convection Vertical motion driven by buoyancy forces arising from static instability, usually caused by near-surface cooling or increases in salinity in the case of the ocean and near-surface warming in the case of the atmosphere. At the location of convection, the horizontal scale is approximately the same as the vertical scale, as opposed to the large contrast between these scales in the general circulation. The net vertical mass transport is usually much smaller than the upward and downward exchange.

Cosmogenic isotopes Rare isotopes that are created when a high-energy cosmic ray interacts with the nucleus of an in situ atom. They are often used as indications of solar magnetic activity (which can shield cosmic rays) or as tracers of atmospheric transport, and are also called cosmogenic nuclides.

Cryosphere The component of the climate system consisting of all snow, ice and frozen ground (including permafrost) on and beneath the surface of the Earth and ocean. See also Glacier; Ice sheet.

Dansgaard-Oeschger events Abrupt warming events followed by gradual cooling. The abrupt warming and gradual cooling is primarily seen in Greenland ice cores and in palaeoclimate records from the nearby North Atlantic, while a more general warming followed by a gradual cooling has been observed in other areas as well, at intervals of 1.5 to 7 kyr during glacial times.

Deforestation Conversion of forest to non-forest. For a discussion of the term forest and related terms such as afforestation, reforestation, and deforestation see the IPCC Special Report on Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (IPCC, 2000). See also the report on Definitions and Methodological Options to Inventory Emissions from Direct Human-induced Degradation of Forests and Devegetation of Other Vegetation Types (IPCC, 2003).

Desertification Land degradation in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification defines land degradation as a reduction or loss in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas, of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rain-fed cropland, irrigated cropland, or range, pasture, forest, and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns, such as (i) soil erosion caused by wind and/or water; (ii) deterioration of the physical, chemical and biological or economic properties of soil; and (iii) long-term loss of natural vegetation.

Detection and attribution Climate varies continually on all time scales. Detection of climate change is the process of demonstrating that climate has changed in some defined statistical sense, without providing a reason for that change. Attribution of causes of climate change is the process of establishing the most likely causes for the detected change with some defined level of confidence.

Diatoms Silt-sized algae that live in surface waters of lakes, rivers and oceans and form shells of opal. Their species distribution in ocean cores is often related to past sea surface temperatures.

Diurnal temperature range The difference between the maximum and minimum temperature during a 24-hour period.

Dobson unit (DU) A unit to measure the total amount of ozone in a vertical column above the Earth’s surface (total column ozone). The number of Dobson units is the thickness in units of 10–5 m that the ozone column would occupy if compressed into a layer of uniform density at a pressure of 1,013 hPa and a temperature of 0°C. One DU corresponds to a column of ozone containing 2.69 × 1,020 molecules per square metre. A typical value for the amount of ozone in a column of the Earth’s atmosphere, although very variable, is 300 DU.

Downscaling Downscaling is a method that derives local- to regional-scale (10 to 100 km) information from larger-scale models or data analyses. Two main methods are distinguished: dynamical downscaling and empirical/statistical downscaling. The dynamical method uses the output of regional climate models, global models with variable spatial resolution or high-resolution global models. The empirical/statistical methods develop statistical relationships that link the large-scale atmospheric variables with local/regional climate variables. In all cases, the quality of the downscaled product depends on the quality of the driving model.

Drought In general terms, drought is a ‘prolonged absence or marked deficiency of precipitation’, a ‘deficiency that results in water shortage for some activity or for some group’, or a ‘period of abnormally dry weather sufficiently prolonged for the lack of precipitation to cause a serious hydrological imbalance’ (Heim, 2002). Drought has been defined in a number of ways. Agricultural drought relates to moisture deficits in the topmost 1 metre or so of soil (the root zone) that affect crops, meteorological drought is mainly a prolonged deficit of precipitation, and hydrologic drought is related to below-normal streamflow, lake and groundwater levels. A megadrought is a long-drawn out and pervasive drought, lasting much longer than normal, usually a decade or more. For further information, see Box 3.1.

Dynamical system A process or set of processes whose evolution in time is governed by a set of deterministic physical laws. The climate system is a dynamical system. See Abrupt climate change; Chaos; Nonlinearity; Predictability.

2011-12-06 11:59:37
Tom Curtis

t.r.curtis@gmail...
112.213.151.144

Can we insert a linkable point in the text, ie, something that allows us to link to specific terms in our posts rather than to the glossary as a whole.  If so, how?

2011-12-06 12:22:35
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Tom, I think so.  Let me experiment a bit with the editor.

Meh.  Can't figger the bugger out.  I'll ask JC (sure he or Sphaerica knows).

Preliminary post is here: http://www.skepticalscience.com/SkS_Glossary_Terms_Acronyms.html

2011-12-06 16:15:16Copyright issue?
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.182.194

Just wondering if it's okay by IPCC copyright rules to import the complete glossary?

http://www.ipcc.ch/home_copyright.shtml

It might be prudent to at least send them an email to ask for permission.

 

Another thought:

In order to make any kind of glossary available via links to the individual words it might be better - even if it involves some coding - to eventually have this in a database. This would then also allow us to eg provide translations. In order to prepare for that option we'd "only" need the language key as an additional field.

2011-12-11 22:35:01Getting in touch with the IPCC?
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.167.175

I'd like to contact the IPCC to ask them for permission to import their glossary into SkS. As we more likely than not would like to have the terms and explanations in a database, I suggest that I also ask if they already have the information available in a table-format (eg. Excel) which would make it a lot less timeconsuming to actually get the data into SkS.

Are there any concerns about this path forward? Should John as the owner of SkS make such an inquiry/request?

2011-12-11 23:40:18
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.168

BaerbelW,

As long as you are only inquiring, and not making any commitments on behalf of SkS, I can't see how it could be inappropriate.

2011-12-11 23:54:49Draft email to the IPCC
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.167.175

Hi all,

I just - quickly - drafted an email to Ms Schlingemann who is named on the IPCC-copyright page as the person to contact with related inquiries.

DRAFT begin

Dear Ms Schlingemann,

I'm writing as a contributor to the website SkepticalScience.com founded by John Cook. The website's goal is to work as a clearing house, separating climate myths from climate science and it consists of two main features:

1. A database and list of rebuttals to many of the often heard climate myths
and
2. A blog trying to keep up to date with the latest scientific knowledge

The Skeptical Science team is currently considering creating a glossary both of acronyms and terms related to climate science and we'd like to leverage the content already available on the IPCC-website. Is this consistent with the IPCC's copyright rules or do we need your explicit approval before moving ahead? If we need your approval which steps do we need to take to get it?

If we can make use of the IPCC-glossary is there an easy means available to extract it in table-format to then upload it into a SkepticalScience-database? This would of course be a big time-saver as opposed to using copy and paste!

Thanks in advance for considering our request.

Kind regards
Bärbel Winkler

DRAFT end

Any commments/suggestions?

2011-12-12 00:30:55
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.37.168

Sounds OK to me.

2011-12-12 01:10:16BaerbelW
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Thank you for taking the initiative on this. I'm copying your note with your draft to the General Chat thread A call for SkS to declare war on undefined acronyms! because not everyone who is actively engaged on that thread is reading this thread.

2011-12-12 01:21:33BaerbelW
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Suggest that the request be speicific to:

The Glossary from Annex I of the IPPC's AG4 report, "Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis" and the Acronyms from Annex IV of that report.

 

2011-12-12 01:22:35
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Thumb-ey from me, Bärbel.

2011-12-12 06:42:54
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.92.83.229

Considerung=considering. Looks good.

2011-12-13 04:21:01Email sent to IPCC
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.175.11

Thanks for your feedback, which I included in the final version of the email. I'll keep you posted.

2011-12-14 03:11:41Positive Reply!
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
77.24.84.86

I already received an email granting SkS the right to make use of the IPCC information. I'll post the details later as adding the text while on the iPad loses all the line breaks.

2011-12-14 06:56:50Reply from the IPCC
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.178.152

Okay, here is the email I received today from Ms Schlingemann:

Dear Ms Winkler,

Thank you for your message concerning your request to reproduce IPCC material. Please be advised that we grant you non-exclusive permission to reproduce the Glossary in the manner as specified by you, provided that you acknowledge the original source with mention of the name of the IPCC report and a reference to the pages.

Please give the following credit line:

Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Working Group I Contribution to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Annex I, Glossary, pp. 941-954. Cambridge University Press. 

Unfortunately I cannot extract the Glossary in table format.

Thank you for your interest in the work of the IPCC.

With kind regards,

Sophie Schlingemann

This means, that we can move ahead as planned as long as we add the credit line whereever that makes sense, like eg. the glossary pages. Over on General Chat jyyh has added a link to an Excel-file which contains the acronyms . These were - at a guess - fairly easy to extract from the IPCC-page as they were almost in tabular format. I'm not sure if the same will hold true for the glossary where the relevant terms start off the explaining paragraph. We may need to employ copy&paste for that.

Sphaerica (Bob) put together an example page of how the glossary could interact with an SkS-page.

In order to not have to track progress on this topic in two places, we should decide which the "master-thread" will be. I'd suggest we use this one here in the Blog-forum as it's already a "sticky". Or should it be moved somewhere else completely?

2011-12-14 07:40:28
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Bärbel,

I think that the response from the IPCC doesn't apply to the code I whipped up, so you're going to need to ask again.  They explicitly said "in the manner as specified by you," which is a single page of terms, not the popups I'm proposing.

Beyond this, their requested credit line is awfully long... if we put that onto the term popups themselves, it would be longer than many definitions.  I can do it, especially if I shink the font way down, but it's going to look cluttered.

What I propose that you propose to them is for our side to say "Source: IPCC AR4 Glossary" which will be a live link to the online version of the start of their glossary here, or else to the appropriate page such as here.

If you send them the link of the sample page that I've posted, you'll need to warn them for now that it doesn't work in Internet Explorer, and that the definitions they'll see for the moment are rather... whimsical.  Maybe I should take the definition of a "model" out of the page, in fact, or at least tone down the image.

2011-12-14 07:44:24
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Note that the above proposal "Source: IPCC AR4 Glossary" would be put on each individual term definition popup.  Alternately, perhaps they would agree to a simple, across the board citation (realizing, of course, that we may have definitions in there that do not come from the IPCC).  We could put that citation at the bottom of every page ("Many term definitions courtesy of...") or else we could put it into the terms-definitions widget, if I get around to coding that this coming weekend.

2011-12-14 08:00:34
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.178.152

In my email I did mention that we'd like to put the data into a database on SkS and - as we'll most likely will also have glossary pages in addition to your widget - we will have several places where the complete credit line can be added without much trouble. Once we have something up and running, I'll send some links to Ms. Schlingemann and tell her that the SkS-team has come up with a very creative way to actually display the terms and acronyms "on the fly". Who knows, perhaps the IPCC would then like to make use of your widget as well?!?

I'd like to wait with sending out a link, until we have real-pages for her to look at. Do you think that I should nonetheless give her a heads-up right away?

2011-12-14 09:27:19
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

I think we can wait until we're a little closer to impelmentation and know better what our presentation and limitations will be before we contact her again, although I think that John's opinion matters more than mine on this.  He should make the call on when she gets a heads up and any further questions.

But your suggestion for waiting until real or near-real pages makes sense to me.

BTW, I'm assuming you would prefer Bärbel to Baerbel, is that correct?

2011-12-14 16:17:02Bärbel vs. Baerbel
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.137.86

Thanks for asking, Bob!

In German my name is spelled Bärbel, but as "ä" isn't a readily available letter on QWERTY keyboards, I've been using "Baerbel" whenever communicating with friends and colleagues worldwide. It is also not a name easily pronounced by eg. English-speaking folks so I do react to several variations of it ;-)

2011-12-14 18:47:46
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Bärbel,

I have a Mac, so diacritics are easy to do and I use them all the time.  In fact, the paying project I'm just starting is to develop an International address system, so it's core to what I'm working on.

On name pronunciation... I sympathize.  My last name is Lacatena, a simple italian name (consonant-vowel-consonent-vowel...), and yet it has been butchered my entire life by just about everyone but maybe 4 people.  The usual variations come out as Lacantena or Lacenta.  I have no idea why, but it happens over and over again.  I just smile and nod.

2011-12-14 22:44:51
jyyh
Otto Lehikoinen
otanle@hotmail...
85.76.152.223

This should not be included in the acronym/variable list, I guess, variables included in a large earth system model maybe found in here: http://cmip-pcmdi.llnl.gov/cmip5/docs/standard_output.pdf , one almost has to wonder how they do not runaway in unexpected directions.

 

2011-12-17 04:28:24
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

The sample page has been updated to try to fix compatibility issues.  Everyone is asked (at least for now, as a quick first pass) to visit the page and confirm that it does/doesn't behave well.

I may well ask John to let us organize a more structured test, but I'd appreciate feedback on basic useability at this point (since I had to mangle the code to accomodate the fact that Internet Explorer sucks rocks).

2011-12-17 04:41:30
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

It behaves well for me. Bravo!

2011-12-17 05:16:13Chrome/Firefox work well
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.193.110.78

I just checked with Firefox 8.0 and Chrome 15.0.874.121 m and both work very well. I also tried IE 8 and it worked as well, but seemed to need longer to load before the words became "active".

2011-12-17 05:32:15Levels
tmurdock

tmurdock@uvic...
142.104.194.122

Hello all, I'm a new addition to the forum here and want to throw a bit of a wrench in the glossary plans. I work at a regional climate service (www.PacificClimate.org) that interacts frequently with local users of climate information and there is a steady demand for a credible but understandable glossary,

Many people have tried this. Here are all the glossaries I get pointed to and asked about in addition to IPCC's glossary. 

1.  UK CIP http://www.ukcip.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=234&Itemid=328#criticalthresh

2.  US EPA http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/glossary.html

3.  US Pew Centre http://www.pewclimate.org/global-warming-basics/full_glossary

4.  Environment Canada’s definitions and glossary http://www.ec.gc.ca/ges-ghg/default.asp?lang=En&n=B710AE51-1

5.  NRCAN’s 2007 adaptation assessment http://adaptation.nrcan.gc.ca/assess/2007/ch11/index_e.php

6.  BC Climate Action Secretariat (CAS) http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/cas/resources/glossary.html

The last one is the provincial government here and widely regarded as the most understandable, but then they sacrifice credibility.

I would like to propose the best of both worlds and that we include levels in the definitions just as we do for rebuttals.

Here for example are two definitions from CAS and IPCC that I think show the value of having two versions (we might want only basic and advanced with advanced being exactly IPCC and basic being definitions we write and vote on here, drawing from glossaries like the ones listed above or just re-writing the IPCC definition in plain language).

Climate

CAS - The climate of an area is its local weather conditions — such as temperature, precipitation (rainfall, snow, etc.), humidity, sunshine, cloudiness, wind, and air pressure. It is the weather averaged over a long period of time. Some people say climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get.

IPCC - Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The classical period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Climate in a wider sense is the state, including a statistical description, of the climate system. In various parts of this report different averaging periods, such as a period of 20 years, are also used.

Atmosphere

CAS - The layer of gases surrounding Earth. It is about 480 kilometres thick, and mainly composed of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and a few other trace gases.

IPCC - The gaseous envelope surrounding the Earth. The dry atmosphere consists almost entirely of nitrogen (78.1% volume mixing ratio) and oxygen (20.9% volume mixing ratio), together with a number of trace gases, such as argon (0.93% volume mixing ratio), helium and radiatively active greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide (0.035% volume mixing ratio) and ozone. In addition, the atmosphere contains the greenhouse gas water vapour, whose amounts are highly variable but typically around 1% volume mixing ratio.

You can see here that for one of the most basic terms, atmosphere, the reader has to look up mixing ratio... although that itself is a pretty intuitive term, it's definitely not plain language. To make things worse, "mixing ratio" actually isn't even in the IPCC main glossary, you have to go to the glossary for WGI, where it tells you to see "mole fraction", which has the following definition that talks about the number of moles, which most people won't remember from Chemistry 12 (if they took it) as simply a very big number - and moles isn't defined at all. It also introduces ppm as shorthand for µmol mol–1, itself requiring the reader to understand -1 as notation for "1 over", µ as micro (10-6), and µmol per mol as just simply a ratio. Finally, the explanation of the difference between mole fraction and volume mixing ratio presumes an understanding of ideal gas law, and how the equation of state for real gases in the atmosphere will differ somewhat from "pivnert".

Mole fraction Mole fraction, or mixing ratio, is the ratio of the number of moles of a constituent in a given volume to the total number of moles of all constituents in that volume. It is usually reported for dry air. Typical values for long-lived greenhouse gases are in the order of µmol mol–1 (parts per million: ppm), nmol mol–1 (parts per billion: ppb), and fmol mol–1 (parts per trillion: ppt). Mole fraction differs from volume mixing ratio, often expressed in ppmv etc., by the corrections for non-ideality of gases. This correction is significant relative to measurement precision for many greenhouse gases. (Schwartz and Warneck, 1995).

2011-12-17 05:41:17
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

tmurdock,

Good points.  The CAS is much closer, I think, to what we'd want, because of clarity and simplicity/accessability as well as brevity.

It's got all the ity's one could want. :)

Something to keep in mind as the glossary is expanded.

2011-12-17 07:36:31Levels
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.193.110.78

I already made the suggestion to for example add a field for "source" to the glossary-database. Either this field is enough, or - to add more flexibility (not to mention complexity!) - another field for "level" gets added. Once those fields are available in the database, they can be used to select which level should be displayed.

Sphaerica does have some mechanism in mind for his widget to give the user some control of what gets displayed, and selecting the glossary content by level (or source) shouldn't add too much complexity (or so I hope).

2011-12-22 05:37:00
tmurdock

tmurdock@uvic...
142.104.194.122

I guess source would be enough if we also had a "Skeptical Science" source where we could create our own definitions here the same way rebutalls are created, if we find that there is no good source for a simple definition.

On the other hand, I'm inclined to think that having level as a field would be more useful because, although I could see all of the "Advanced" definitions being taking straight from IPCC, I think that the "Basic" definitions could come from various sources, including ones we define ourselves.

2012-01-04 16:05:54Updated Tips... Final?
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

There is an updated version of the sample term definitions page here.

Note the "Lookup A Term" tab at the left bottom of the page.  Please give it a try.

Everyone is asked to try it out on every computer type, OS and browser imaginable to look for bugs.  I have not yet tested it on Internet Explorer (*cringes in fear*).

John already has the terms definition page coded up.  I think there are just a few loose ends to sort out, one of which is making sure this works properly.

2012-01-04 16:31:58
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Looks good in Firefox 9.0.1

 

Edit:

Apologies, left out the OS (VISTA, the P.O.S.* version)

 

 

P.O.S.* = Piece Of Sh*t

2012-01-04 19:28:09
Glenn Tamblyn

glenn@thefoodgallery.com...
124.177.62.132

Hey Sphaerica. Like the entry for 'model'. Can I have a large desktop wallpaper version?

2012-01-04 19:36:39
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.156.78

Hey that's cool! I have Google chrome, but the 'look up a term button' isn't fully visible. All I see is 'look up' the rest continues off screen. 

2012-01-04 19:41:21Lookup A Term....
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.231.143.24

...works well. The only thing which needs some getting used to is that you have to enter the term at the bottom of the screen and the definition will appear at the top right of the screen where the other definitions show up via mouse-over from the text. When entering the term at the bottom of the screen, I would have expected the definition to actually show up in that same area.

2012-01-05 01:38:16
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Rob Painting,

Can you tell me the type of computer (Windows, Mac), Chrome version and OS version?

Do you know how to take a screen cap of what you are seeing and post it here?

Where is the button located... on the left, or to the right?  Odd that "Chrome" of all things is having an issue.

When you click the tab/link for Look Up, does the rest of it work properly.

2012-01-05 01:39:25
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Glen,

Unfortunately the largest resolution is here... where you can download an iPhone app with the picture (the app appears to be free).

That reminds me, though, I have no idea how this page looks/works on a mobile device like an iPhone or Android phone.

2012-01-05 01:46:39
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Bärbel,

I did think about that. Coding it to display beside the "Define" button became problematic for three reasons. 

1, if the def was too big, there was the issue of overflow below the page (which I could handle with a scroll bar, but...). 

2., it meant the user had two places to look for defs. 

3.  It was a lot more work to code it to work two ways ("hover" and "define") than to just reuse the "growl" method.

Maybe I should display a quick float that points the user towards the definition?  Or actually I could do a quick animation that leads the user's eye to the jGrowl.  I think I can do the latter without too much trouble.  I'll give that a try later.

2012-01-05 05:56:56
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Bärbel,

I added a touch of eye-candy to help.  Check it out.

2012-01-05 05:57:58
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

Others,

Please kindly do as Dan did here, and tell me your browser version and OS (which Dan left out) when it does work, so I know what has been checked and what hasn't.

2012-01-09 03:00:56Eye-candy
BaerbelW

baerbel-for-350@email...
93.193.101.194

Bob,

thanks for that (and sorry about my late reply - I missed your update as I was travelling and hadn't noticed it).

2012-01-09 03:20:03
Daniel Bailey
Daniel Bailey
yooper49855@hotmail...
97.83.150.37

Like a recalcitrant schoolboy with late homework, added my OS.

BTW, VISTA sucks, big time.

2012-01-10 05:44:37Back to the Future!
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Damiel Bailey,

While the techies are sorting out all of the technical issues, let's go back to the future and post the Glossary of Scientific terms from the IPCC as a stand-alone article. In this case, "perfect" is inceed the enemy of "good."

2012-01-12 09:57:15
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

John,

I'm afraid I don't see the point of posting a glossary as an article.

On the other hand, John is doing his best to get the term definitions table and edit page set up so we can use all of this.  He really has it almost completely ready, but he's having a hard time finding the time to finish it off.  We're working together to sort out how other people can help him with these coding tasks, but that in itself is a major project.

In the meantime... patience is a virtue.

2012-01-18 17:45:23
jyyh
Otto Lehikoinen
otanle@hotmail...
85.78.237.206

looks OK on G Chrome (finally installed an alternative) and XP, the standard browser didn't work last time i checked (week ago).

2012-01-20 01:49:05
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

jyyh,

What do you mean by "the standard browser?"  You mean IE?

2012-01-20 01:50:16Update
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

John has turned a lot of the code over to me so that I can work on it, since he has so little time himself... and I now have little time to work on it myself.  I've been swamped, but I am hoping to get to it soon, and to get this implemented on the live site.

2012-01-20 02:23:59
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Sphaerica,

It appears that we have no choice but to wait until you complete the necessary coding.

Re "patience", please know that the need for SkS to create a glossary was identified years ago.

2012-01-23 11:26:59
Sphaerica

Bob@Lacatena...
76.28.5.93

This is done, except for testing (first more testing by me, then testing by John) and then installation.

2012-01-24 04:27:57
John Hartz
John Hartz
john.hartz@hotmail...
98.122.98.161

Sphaerica,

Thanks for all of the time and effort that you have devoted to this task.