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Frequently asked questions


Adaptation: Adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. Various types of adaptation can be distinguised, including anticipatory, autonomous and planned adaptation

Adaptive capacity: The ability of a system (i.e. natural or human systems) to adjust to climate change, to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences

Autonomous adaptation: Adaptation that does not constitute a conscious response to climatic stimuli but is triggered by ecological changes in natural systems and by market or welfare changes in human systems. Also reffered to as spontanous adaptation

CHG (greenhouse gas): Greenhouse gases are those gaseous constituents of the atmosphere, both natural and anthropogenic, that absorb and emit radiation at specific wavelengths within the spectrum of infrared radiation emitted by the Earth's surface, the atmosphere, and clouds. This property causes the greenhouse effect. Water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide (N2O), methane (CH4) and ozone (O3) are the primary greenhouse gases in the Earth's atmosphere. As well as CO2, N2O and CH4, the Kyoto Protocol deals with the greenhouse gas sources and emissions and enhancing greenhouse gas sinks

Impact: The effects of climate change on natural and human systems

Mitigation: An anthropogenic intervention to reduce the anthropogenic forcing of the climate system; it includes strategies to reduce greehouse gas sources and emissions and enhancing greenhouse gas sinks

Proactive adaptation: Adaptation that takes place before impacts of climate change are observed. Also reffered to as anticipatory adaptation

Vulnerability: The degree to which a system (i.e. natural or human systems) 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

1This glossary is based on (1) IPCC, 2008

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