Glossary of Terms


Ability of species to adapt to new environment, including humans to climate change.


An extended period of time with low rainfall leading to crop damage and failure.

Endangered Species

Species whose populations are threatened and risk extinction.


Heavy rain from storms including hurricanes causing rivers to breach their banks and flood communities. Also includes flood from storm surge in coastal regions.

Food Insecurity

Populations that do not have access to sufficient nutritious food often leading to hunger and malnutrition.

Harmful Algal Blooms

Massive populations of algae that often produce toxins and can lead to death of higher trophic levels and sickness in humans.


An extended period of time with temperatures reaching levels that are dangerous for humans and often lead to casualties among vulnerable populations.


A cyclonic storm with wind speeds over 75 miles per hour bringing heavy rainfall and storm surge to coastal regions leading to property damage.

Ice Melt

Melting of ice sheets (Antarctica and Greenland) and sea ice (Arctic Ocean).

Invasive Species

Non-native species that have the ability to reproduce rapidly and threaten the livelihood of native species.


Lessening the impact of climate change through a number of strategies including carbon taxation and carbon capture and storage.

Ocean Acidification

Seawater with reduced pH slowing the growth of organisms with shells including corals and oysters.

Sea Level Rise

Rising ocean level as a result of ocean warming, ice melting and land subsidence leading to flooding of coastal cities.


A funnel-shaped vortex of violently rotating wind with the potential to do significant damage to property.

Water Insecurity

Populations that do not have access to sufficient clean drinking water often leading to disease and fatalities.


Natural or human-initiated fires that burn large areas and cause damage to property.


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Communities in Crisis: Student Voices on Climate Change Copyright © 2021 by College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, The Pennsylvania State University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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