JavaScript must be enabled in order for you to use the Site in standard view. However, it seems JavaScript is either disabled or not supported by your browser. To use standard view, enable JavaScript by changing your browser options.


Glossary


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


B

Black carbon

 

Particle matter in the atmosphere that consists of soot, charcoal and/or possible light-absorbing refractory organic material. Black carbon is operationally defined matter based on measurement of light absorption and chemical reactivity and/or thermal stability.

 
Bioaccumulation

 

The increase in concentration of a chemical in organisms that reside in contaminated environments. Also used to describe the progressive increase in the amount of a chemical in an organism resulting from rates of absorption of a substance in excess of its metabolism and excretion.

 
Biocapacity

 

The capacity of ecosystems to produce useful biological materials and to absorb waste materials generated by humans, using current management schemes and extraction technologies. The biocapacity of an area is calculated by multiplying the actual physical area by the yield factor and the appropriate equivalence factor. Biocapacity is usually expressed in units of global hectares.

 
Biodegradable

 

The ability of a substance to be broken down physically and/or chemically by micro organisms.

 
Biodegradable waste

 

Organic waste, typically coming from plant or animal sources (for example food scraps and paper), which other living organisms can break down.

 
Biodiversity

 

The variety of life on Earth, including diversity at the genetic level, among species and among ecosystems and habitats. It includes diversity in abundance, distribution and in behaviour. Biodiversity also incorporates human cultural diversity, which can both be affected by the same drivers as biodiversity, and itself has impacts on the diversity of genes, other species and ecosystems.

 
Bioenergy

 

All types of energy derived from biomass, including biofuels.

 
Biofuel

 

Fuel produced from dry organic matter or combustible oils from plants, such as alcohol from fermented sugar, black liquor from the paper manufacturing process, wood and soybean oil.

 
Biophysical environment

 

The part of the environment which did not originate with and is not dependent on human activities (e.g. biological, physical and chemical objects and processes).

 
Biogas

 

Gas, rich in methane, which is produced by the fermentation of animal dung, human sewage or crop residues in an airtight container.

 
Biomass

 

Organic material, both above ground and below ground, and both living and dead, such as trees, crops, grasses, tree litter and roots.

 
Biome

 

The largest unit of ecosystem classification that is convenient to recognize below the global level. Terrestrial biomes are typically based on dominant vegetation structure (such as forest and grassland). Ecosystems within a biome function in a broadly similar way, although they may have very different species composition. For example, all forests share certain properties regarding nutrient cycling, disturbance and biomass that are different from the properties of grasslands..

 
Bioremediation

 

The use of living organisms (e.g. bacteria) to clean up oil spills or remove other pollutants from soil, water and wastewater.

 
Biosecurity

 

Policies and practices to prevent the invasion of an area by alien species.

 
Biospecies

 

A species for which it has been established (or at least generally agreed) that members of the species can interbreed with one another and produce fertile offspring but cannot do so with individuals that do not belong to that biospecies.

 
Biosphere

 

The part of the Earth system comprising all ecosystems and living organisms in the atmosphere, on land (terrestrial biosphere), or in the oceans (marine biosphere), including derived dead organic matter, such as litter, soil organic matter, and oceanic detritus.

 
Biota

 

The living organisms (animals and plants) in an area.

 
Biotechnology

 

The application of in vitro nucleic acid techniques, including recombinant deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and direct injection of nucleic acid into cells or organelles, or fusion of cells beyond the taxonomic family, that overcome natural physiological, reproductive or recombination barriers and that are not techniques used in traditional breeding and selection. .

 
Brackish

 

Saline water with a concentration between fresh water and seawater..

 
Brownfields

 

Abandoned or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental pollution

 
Brown haze

 

Air pollution caused by traffic and factories. Part of brown haze is smog, which forms when water vapour mixes with pollution particles in the air. You can often see brown haze over Cape Town in winter.