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GREENCYCLES Biogeochemistry and Climate Change Research and Training Network: Glossary - definition

Each atmospheric layer is defined by its chemical and physical properties.
Troposphere: The lowest, turbulent part of the atmosphere, in which all weather events take place (altitude from ground to about 10 km).
Stratosphere: The atmosphere layer above the troposhere (altitude from about 10 to about 50 km). The upper layers of the stratosphere are also known as the ozone layer.


Climate forcing: Any imposed perturbation of the global climate system of the Earth. This could happen through different mechanisms such as changes in the:

Radiative climate forcing: The change in the global radiation energy budget imposed by a change in a factor that interferes with the radiation budget, such as the concentration of a greenhouse gas, trapping outgoing (long-wave) radiation in the lower atmosphere, or the presence aerosols, reflecting incoming (shortwave) radiation back to space.

Cloud forcing: The radiative forcing associated with changes in the cloud cover. Clouds partially reflect incoming (shortwave) radiation and thereby cause a cooling effect. At the same time intercept they have a greenhouse effect on outgoing radiation. The net balance of these two opposite effects is highly uncertain, and depends on the form and altitude of the clouds.

For more information on climate forcing, see the wikipedia article "radiative forcing".


Aerosol: any solid particle or liquid droplet suspended (i.e. floating) in air. Most occur naturally, originating from volcanoes, dust storms, forest and grassland fires, living vegetation (e.g. biogenic organic compounds), and sea spray.

edaphic: relating to soil (including organisms, water, etc).

Phenology: the study of the impact of the climate on the cyclic phenomena of plants and animals.

ENSO (El Nino South Oscillation): A see-saw pattern in the tropical Pacific, affecting the prevailing wind system and ocean currents. ENSO is a major cause of the global interannual climate variability.

Termination: In the glacial-interglacial cycle, the termination marks the transition from a glacial to an interglacial period.
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