IPCC Climate Change Glossary

March 4, 2007 at 10:21 pm | Posted in Climate change, Climate Reports, English, Global warming, IPCC, Languages, Linguistics | 1 Comment

Linguistics is becoming an important part of discussions on global warming. To assist our understanding, here is the glossary provided by the IPCC WGI in 2001 and, since “global warming” does not appear in the glossary, having been superseded by “climate change”, let’s start with that:

Climate change
Climate change refers to a statistically significant variation in either the mean state of the climate or in its variability, persisting 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.


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  1. I agree that climate change is superior to global warming. Among other matters, “warming” sounds rather pleasant.

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