Environmental Topics

ABC Process
A method of purifying sewage which derived its name from the articles used: sulphate of alumina, blood, charcoal and clay.
Abiotic Factor
A nonorganic variable within the ecosystem, affecting the life of organisms, e.g. temperature, light, and soil structure.
Aeration Tank
A chamber used to inject air into water.
Aerosol
A colloid in which solid particles or liquid droplets are suspended in a gas.
Air Pollution
The presence of contaminants or pollutant substances in the air that interfere with human health or welfare, or produce other harmful environmental effects.
Air Pollution Episode
A period of abnormally high concentration of air pollutants, often due to low winds and temperature inversion, that can cause illness and death.
Air Quality Criteria
The levels of pollution and lengths of exposure above which adverse health and welfare effects may occur.
Air Quality Standards
The level of pollutants prescribed by regulations that are not be exceeded during a given time in a defined area.
Air Toxics
Pollutants that are known to cause or suspected of causing cancer or other serious health effects, such as developmental effects or birth defects.
Albedo
The ratio of the amount of radiation reflected from an object's surface compared to the amount that strikes it.
Algal Bloom
Sudden spurts of algae growth, which can affect water quality adversely and indicate potentially hazardous changes in local water chemistry.
Allergen
A substance that causes an allergic reaction in individuals sensitive to it.
Alluvial
Relating to and/or sand deposited by flowing water.
Alternative Energy
Energy derived from non-fossil-fuel sources.
Alternative Fuels
Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel.
Anthropogenic
Resulting from or produced by human beings.
Anthropogenic Emissions
Emissions of greenhouse gases, greenhouse gas precursors, and aerosols associated with human activities.
Aquatic Ecotoxicity
The study of how chemicals affect the water environment and the organisms living there.
Aqueous Decontamination
Removal of a chemical or biological hazard with a water-base solution.
Biodegradeable
Waste materials that can be broken down by organisms.
Biofuel
A fuel produced from dry organic matter or combustible oils produced by plants.
Biomass
Burning wood, crop residues and dung is the most widespread source of energy for heating and cooking in the rural developing world.
Biosphere
The part of the Earth system comprising all ecosystems and living organisms in the atmosphere, on land, or in the oceans, including derived dead organic matter such as litter, soil organic matter, and oceanic detritus.
Bottom Ash
Incombustible matter resulting from combustion that does not leave as fly ash.
Brakish Water
Water having less salt than sea water, but undrinkable, having salinity values ranging from about 0.5 to 17 parts per thousand.
CAA
Abbreviation of Clean Air Act.
Carbon Capture System
The capture of carbon dioxide and removal from the atmosphere. This may be achieved by capturing the CO2 as it is exhausted from the power station or once it is in the atmosphere. In the exhaust the carbon dioxide will be at higher concentration and so easier to extract.
Carbon Cycle
The term used to describe the flow of carbon in various forms through the atmosphere, ocean, terrestrial biosphere, and lithosphere.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions
While CO2 levels in the Earth′s atmosphere have fluctuated over many eons, recent investigations have revealed a steady and rapid rate of increase in atmospheric CO2 during the past 100 years as a result of mankind′s industrialization.
Carbon Sequestration
The absorption and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere.
CCS
Abbreviation of Carbon Capture System - the capture of carbon dioxide and removal from the atmosphere.
Cellulosic Ethanol
Ethanol made from agricultural refuse, grass, wood, municipal waste and a variety of feedstock, which is less expensive and more available than just corn.
Chlorination
The application of chlorine to drinking water, sewage, or industrial waste to disinfect or to oxidize undesirable compounds.
Clean Air Act
Signed into law in 1963, then amended in 1970, and again in 1990. Includes emissions standard for mobile and stationary sources. Enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Clean Diesel
An evolving definition of diesel fuel with lower emission specifications.
Climate Variability
Variations in the mean state and other statistics of the climate on all temporal and spatial scales beyond that of individual weather events.
Cloud Enhancement
The increase in solar intensity caused by reflected irradiance from nearby clouds.
CO2 Equivalent
The amount of carbon dioxide that would cause the same integrated radiative emission as the emitted amount of greenhouse gases.
Concentrated Solar Power
The sun′s energy is captured with mirrors and concentrated to heat steam that then drives a turbine to produce electricity.
Condensable Particulate Matter
Particulate matter, contained almost entirely within the PM2.5 classification, that forms from condensing gases or vapours.
Cryosphere
The component of the climate system consisting of all snow, ice, and permafrost on and beneath the surface of the earth and ocean.
Dispersion Model
A computerized set of mathematical equations that uses emissions and meteorological information to simulate the behavior and movement of air pollutants in the atmosphere.
Drinking Water
Water of sufficiently high quality that it can be consumed or used without risk of immediate or long term harm.
Elutriation
The process of separating the finer particles of an earthy substance from the coarser and heavier by washing with water.
Emissions
The gases and airborne particles produced during combustion.
Energy Accounting
System used within industry, where measuring and analyzing the energy consumption of different activities is done to improve energy efficiency.
Energy Conservation
Practice of decreasing the quantity of energy used.
Energy Intensity
The ratio of energy consumption to economic or physical output.
Energy Return on Energy Invested
It is the ratio of energy generated divided by the energy required to build and maintain the equipment.
Energy Use Reduction
With all use of energy there is a drive to reduce the consumption to reduce costs, emissions or because of availability.
Environmental Engineer
An engineer who designs and operates systems to provide safe drinking water and to prevent and control pollution in water, in the air, and on the land.
Equivalent Carbon Dioxide
The amount of carbon dioxide that would cause the same integrated radiative emission as the emitted amount of greenhouse gases.
EROEI
Abbreviation of Energy Return on Energy Invested.
Eustatic Sea-Level Change
A change in global average sea level brought about by an alteration to the volume of the world ocean.
Eutrophication
The absorption of excessive nutrients in a body of water, which causes a dense growth of plant life.
Evapotranspiration
The combined process of evaporation from the surface of the Earth and transpiration from vegetation.
Fertiliser
A substance added to soil to provide nutrients for plants.
Fine Particles
EPA classification of particles having aerodynamic diameters greater than 0.1 micrometer and less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers.
Fly Ash
Uncombusted particulate matter in the combustion gases resulting from the burning of coal and other material.
Fossil Carbon Dioxide Emissions
Emissions of carbon dioxide resulting from the combustion of fuels from fossil carbon deposits such as oil, natural gas, and coal.
Fossil Fuel Emissions
Emissions of greenhouse gases resulting from the combustion of fuels from fossil carbon deposits.
Fuel Cycle
The processes involved in extracting a fuel in its native form, converting it to a useful product, transporting it to market, and consuming it at its final destination.
Fungicide
A substance that kill fungi.
Gasification
A process for converting materials such as coal, petroleum, or biomass, into carbon monoxide and hydrogen by reacting the raw material at high temperatures with a controlled amount of oxygen.
Geothermal Energy
Energy made by using underground steam; the steam produces electricity.
GHG
Abbreviation of Greenhouse Gases.
Global Dimming
A perceived widespread reduction of solar radiation received at the surface of the Earth.
Global Surface Temperature
The area-weighted global average.
Global Warming
The prediction that climate will warm as a result of the addition to the atmosphere of humanly produced greenhouse gases.
Global Warming Potential
A measure of how much a given mass of greenhouse gas is estimated to contribute to global warming relative to the same mass of Carbon Dioxide.
Hazardous Air Pollutants
Pollutants that are known to cause or suspected of causing cancer or other serious health effects, such as developmental effects or birth defects.
Heat Island Effect
A dome of elevated temperatures over an urban area caused by structural and pavement heat fluxes, and pollutant emissions.
Heavy Metals
Metallic elements with high atomic weights can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain.
Hydroelectricity
Production of electricity by water power.
Hydrothermal
Pertains to hot water or the action of heated water, often considered heated by magma or in association with magma.
Insolation
The total amount of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area during a given time.
Landfill Site
A carefully designed structure built into or on top of the ground in which rubbish is isolated from the surrounding environment.
LCA
Abbreviation of Life Cycle Analysis.
Life Cycle Analysis
The investigation and evaluation of the environmental impacts of a given product or service caused or necessitated by its existence.
Lifetime Cancer Risk
The probability of contracting cancer over the course of a lifetime.
Mean Sea Level
The average relative sea level over a period, such as a month or a year, long enough to average out transients such as waves.
Methane Recovery
Method by which methane emissions are captured and then reused either as a fuel or for some other economic purpose.
Nitrogen Cycle
The exchange of nitrogen between animals and plants, in which plants convert urea or nitrates to protein, animals digest protein and excrete its nitrogen content an urea, which is taken up again by plants.
Nitrogen Oxides
Several air-polluting gases composed of nitrogen and oxygen which play an important role in the formation of photochemical smog.
Organic Aerosol
Aerosol particles consisting predominantly of organic compounds, mainly C, H, and O, and lesser amounts of other elements.
Particulate
Composed of distinct particles.
Perfluorocarbons
By-products of aluminum smelting and uranium enrichment. Also replace chlorofluorocarbons in manufacturing semiconductors.
Permafrost
Perennially frozen ground that occurs wherever the temperature remains below 0°C for several years.
PFCs
Abbreviation of Perfluorocarbons.
PM0.1
Ultrafine particles.
PM10
Particles measuring 10µm or less.
PM2.5
Particles measuring 2.5µm or less.
Potable Water
Another name for drinking water.
Primary Energy Source
An energy source that occurs naturally eg fossil fuels, biofuels, wind energy, solar.
PV Cell
Abbreviation of Photovoltaic Cell.
Pyrolysis
Thermal degradation of waste in the absence of air to produce char, pyrolysis oil and syngas.
Reservoir
A container for storage of liquid in a fluid power system.
Scrubber
Air pollution control devices that can be used to remove some particulates and/or gases from industrial exhaust streams.
Scrubbing Liquid
A liquid used to remove particulate or gaseous pollutants by absorption or chemical reaction through contact with the gas stream.
Slurry
A liquid that has a very high level of suspended solids.
Smog
A visible haze caused primarily by particulate matter and ozone.
Solar Constant
The bolometric flux at a distance of 1 AU from the sun = 1.368x103Wm-2
Solar Energy
Electromagnetic energy transmitted from the sun.
Solar Power System
Concept for providing large amounts of electricity for use on the Earth from one or more satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit.
Solar Resource
The amount of solar insolation a site receives, usually measured in kWh/m2/day, which is equivalent to the number of peak sun hours.
Sour Water
Waste waters containing fetid materials, usually sulphur compounds.
Surface Water
Rainwater collected and running on the surface of the land rather than being confined to drains and water courses.
Syngas
A gas mixture that contains varying amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen generated by the gasification of a carbon containing fuel to a gaseous product with a heating value.
Thermal NOx
Nitrogen oxides generated from atmospheric nitrogen during combustion.
Toxic Emission
Any pollutant emitted from a source that can negatively affect human health or the environment.
Toxic Substance
A generic term referring to a harmful substance or group of substances.
Ultrafine Particles
EPA classification of particles having aerodynamic diameters less than or equal to 0.1 micrometer.
Venturi Scrubber
A scrubbing liquid is introduced into the gas stream, which then passes through a contracted area of the scrubber at a high velocity creating a high dispersion of fine droplets.
Waste Water
The used water and solids from industrial processes that flow to a treatment plant.
Water Softener
A device or system used to remove calcium and magnesium hardness minerals from a water supply.
Wet Scrubber
A vessel used for removing pollutants from a gas stream by means of a liquid spray, liquid jet, or liquid layer.
Wind Turbine
A device that converts kinetic energy from the wind, also called wind energy, into mechanical energy; a process known as wind power.
WL
Abbreviation of Working Level.
WLM
Abbreviation of Working Level Month.
Working Level
A unit of measure for documenting exposure to radon decay products.
Working Level Month
A unit of measure used to determine cumulative exposure to radon.
Zeolite Softening
Refers to the process, where zeolite chemicals are capable to exchange ions with the hardness causing impurities of the water.
Zero Air
Atmospheric air purified to contain less than 0.1 ppm total hydrocarbons.
Zhubov Scale
A scale for reporting ice coverage of polar seas.
Zone of Saturation
The layer beneath the surface of the land containing openings that may fill with water.

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