The Habitable PlanetHabitable Planet home page

Unit 13: Looking Forward: Our Global Experiment // Glossary

acid rain
Rainfall with a greater acidity than normal.
Process that occurs when a gas or liquid solute accumulates on the surface of a solid or, more rarely, a liquid (adsorbent), forming a molecular or atomic film (the adsorbate). It is different from absorption, in which a substance diffuses into a liquid or solid to form a solution.
Describing effects or processes that are derived from human activities, as opposed to effects or processes that occur in the natural environment without human influences.
Underground formations, usually composed of sand, gravel, or permeable rock, capable of storing and yielding significant quantities of water.
A carbonate mineral that forms naturally in almost all mollusk shells, as well as the calcareous endoskeleton of warm- and cold-water corals
base load power
The average amount of electricity consumed at any given time. Base load power stations are designed to operate continuously, unlike peaking power stations that generally run only when there is a high demand.
coral bleaching
Refers to the loss of color of corals due to stress-induced expulsion of symbiotic, unicellular algae called zooxanthellae that live within their tissues. Stress can be induced by: (1) increased water temperatures (often attributed to global warming), (2) starvation caused by a decline in zooplankton levels as a result of overfishing, (3) solar irradiance (photosynthetically active radiation and ultraviolet band light), (4) changes in water chemistry, (5) silt runoff, or (6) pathogen infections.
An outflowing of water from a natural body of water, or from a man-made structure, generally considered to be pollution, such as the outflow from a sewage treatment facility or the wastewater discharge from industrial facilities.
Fischer-Tropsch process
A catalyzed chemical reaction in which carbon monoxide and hydrogen are converted into liquid hydrocarbons of various forms. The principal purpose of this process is to produce a synthetic petroleum substitute, typically from coal or natural gas, for use as synthetic lubrication oil or as synthetic fuel.
greenhouse gases
Atmospheric gases or vapors that absorb outgoing infrared energy emitted from the Earth naturally or as a result of human activities. Greenhouse gases are components of the atmosphere that contribute to the Greenhouse effect.
A biological agent that causes disease or illness to its host.
Water coming from the part of the open sea or ocean that is not near the coast
scleractinian corals
Stony or hard corals responsible for the very existence of the reef. As living animals, they provide habitats for many other organisms. The breakdown of their skeletons during calcium-carbonate accretion and especially after death provides material for redistribution and consolidation into the reef framework.
Unicellular yellow-brown (dinoflagellate) algae which live symbiotically in the gastrodermis of reef-building coral.

top of page


© Annenberg Foundation 2017. All rights reserved. Legal Policy