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The storylines and associated population, GDP and emissions scenarios associated with the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES) (Nakicenovic et al., 2000), and the resulting climate change and sea-level rise scenarios. Four families of socio-economic scenario (A1, A2, B1 and B2) represent different world futures in two distinct dimensions: a focus on economic versus environmental concerns, and global versus regional development patterns.


A person or an organisation that has a legitimate interest in a project or entity, or would be affected by a particular action or policy.


See reservoir.


Highly stratified region of atmosphere above the troposphere extending from about 10 km (ranging from 9 km in high latitudes to 16 km in the tropics) to about 50 km.


Water flow within a river channel, for example, expressed in m3/s. A synonym for river discharge.


The biogeographic zone below the tree line and above the montane zone that is characterised by the presence of coniferous forest and trees.


Succulent plants, e.g., cactuses, possessing organs that store water, thus facilitating survival during drought conditions.

Surface runoff

The water that travels over the land surface to the nearest surface stream; runoffof a drainage basin that has not passed beneath the surface since precipitation.

Sustainable development

Development that meets the cultural, social, political and economic needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


The northernmost belt of boreal forest adjacent to the Arctic tundra. Thermal expansion

In connection with sea-level rise, this refers to the increase in volume (and decrease in density) that results from warming water. A warming of the ocean leads to an expansion of the ocean volume and hence an increase in sea level.


The region in the world's ocean, typically at a depth of 1 km, where temperature decreases rapidly with depth and which marks the boundary between the surface and the ocean.

Thermohaline circulation (THC)

Large-scale, density-driven circulation in the ocean, caused by differences in temperature and salinity. In the North Atlantic, the thermohaline circulation consists of warm surface water flowing northward and cold deepwater flowing southward, resulting in a net poleward transport of heat. The surface water sinks in highly restricted regions located in high latitudes. Also called meridional overturning circulation (MOC).


A ragged landscape full of shallow pits, hummocks and depressions often filled with water (ponds), which results from thawing of ground ice or permafrost. Thermokarst processes are the processes driven by warming that lead to the formation of thermokarst.


The level of magnitude of a system process at which sudden or rapid change occurs. A point or level at which new properties emerge in an ecological, economic or other system, invalidating predictions based on mathematical relationships that apply at lower levels.


The evaporation of water vapour from the surfaces of leaves through stomata.

Tree line

The upper limit of tree growth in mountains or high latitudes. It is more elevated or more poleward than the forest line.

Trophic level

The position that an organism occupies in a food chain.

Trophic relationship

The ecological relationship which results when one species feeds on another.


The lowest part of the atmosphere from the surface to about 10 km in altitude in mid-latitudes (ranging from 9 km in high latitudes to 16 km in the tropics on average) where clouds and 'weather' phenomena occur. In the troposphere, temperatures generally decrease with height.


A large wave produced by a submarine earthquake, landslide or volcanic eruption.


A treeless, level, or gently undulating plain characteristic of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions characterised by low temperatures and short growing seasons.


An expression of the degree to which a value (e.g., the future state of the climate system) is unknown. Uncertainty can result from lack of information or from disagreement about what is known or even knowable. It may have many types of sources, from quantifiable errors in the data to ambiguously defined concepts or terminology, or uncertain projections of human behaviour. Uncertainty can therefore be represented by quantitative measures (e.g., a range of values calculated by various models) or by qualitative statements (e.g., reflecting the judgement of a team of experts). See also confidence and likelihood.


The temporary or chronic state resulting from intake of lower than recommended daily dietary energy and/or protein requirements, through either insufficient food intake, poor absorption, and/or poor biological use of nutrients consumed.


A hoofed, typically herbivorous, quadruped mammal (including ruminants, swine, camel, hippopotamus, horse, rhinoceros and elephant).

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

The Convention was adopted on 9 May 1992, in New York, and signed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro by more than 150 countries and the European Community. Its ultimate objective is the 'stabilisation of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system'. It contains commitments for all Parties. Under the Convention, Parties included in Annex I aim to return greenhouse gas emissions not controlled by the Montreal Protocol to 1990 levels by the year 2000. The Convention entered in force in March 1994. See also Kyoto Protocol.

Upwelling region

A region of an ocean where cold, typically nutrient-rich waters-from the bottom of the ocean surface.


The conversion of land from a natural state or managed natural state (such as agriculture) to cities; a process driven by net ruralto-urban migration through which an increasing percentage of the population in any nation or region come to live in settlements that are defined as 'urban centres'.


Able to migrate. Vascular plants

Higher plants with vascular, i.e., sap-transporting, tissues. Vector

A blood-sucking organism, such as an insect, that transmits a pathogen from one host to another. See also vector-borne diseases.

Vector-borne diseases

Disease that are transmitted between hosts by a vector organism (such as a mosquito or tick); e.g., malaria, dengue fever and leishmaniasis.


The biological requirements of certain crops, such as winter cereals, which need periods of extreme cold temperatures before emergence and/or during early vegetative stages, in order to flower and produce seeds. By extension, the act or process of hastening the flowering and fruiting of plants by treating seeds, bulbs or seedlings with cold temperatures, so as to induce a shortening of the vegetative period.


Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, and unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate change and variation to which a system is exposed, its sensitivity, and its adaptive capacity.

Water consumption

Amount of extracted water irretrievably lost during its use (by evaporation and goods production). Water consumption is equal to water withdrawal minus return flow.

Water productivity

The ratio of crop seed produced per unit water applied. In the case of irrigation, see irrigation water-use efficiency. For rain-fed crops, water productivity is typically 1 t/100 mm.

Water stress

A country is water-stressed if the available freshwater supply relative to water withdrawals acts as an important constraint on development. Withdrawals exceeding 20% of renewable water supply have been used as an indicator of water stress. A crop is water-stressed if soil-available water, and thus actual evapotranspiration, is less than potential evapotranspiration demands.

Water-use efficiency

Carbon gain in photosynthesis per unit water lost in evapotranspiration. It can be expressed on a short-term basis as the ratio of photosynthetic carbon gain per unit transpirational water loss, or on a seasonal basis as the ratio of net primary production or agricultural yield to the amount of available water.


An economic term used to describe the state of well-being of humans on an individual or collective basis. The constituents of well-being are commonly considered to include materials to satisfy basic needs, freedom and choice, health, good social relations, and security.


A transitional, regularly waterlogged area of poorly drained soils, often between an aquatic and a terrestrial ecosystem, fed from rain, surface water or groundwater. Wetlands are characterised by a prevalence of vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions.


Ancient organic material trapped in permafrost that is hardly decomposed.


Diseases and infections which are naturally transmitted between vertebrate animals and people.


The animal forms of plankton. They consume phytoplankton or other zooplankton.


IPCC, 2000: Land Use, Land-Use Change, and Forestry: A Special Report of the IPCC, R.T. Watson, I.R. Noble, B. Bolin, N.H. Ravindranath, D.J. Verardo and D.J. Dokken, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, and New York, 377 pp.

Nakicenovic, N., J. Alcamo, G. Davis, B. de Vries, J. Fenhann, S. Gaffin, K. Gregory, A. GrĂ¼bler, T.Y. Jung, T. Kram, E.L. La Rovere, L. Michaelis, S. Mori, T. Morita, W. Pepper, H. Pitcher, L. Price, K. Raihi, A. Roehrl, H.-H. Rogner, A. Sankovski, M. Schlesinger, P. Shukla, S. Smith, R. Swart, S. van Rooijen, N. Victor and Z. Dadi, 2000: Emissions Scenarios: A Special Report of Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, and New York, 599 pp.

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