Adaptation, specifically climate change adaptation, refers to ways and means of modifying society and the environment to an altered climate. It is one response approach to climate change, along with climate change mitigation (see entry below).
A substance derived from ammonia by replacing one, two or three hydrogen atoms with hydrocarbon or other organic groups.
Resulting from or produced by human beings.
An underground layer of permeable rock through which groundwater runs.
A chemical element found in all plants and animals on earth. All molecules that contain carbon and hydrogen are known as organic molecules. When organic materials, including fossil fuels, are combusted the carbon is released into the air in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), along with water vapour and other greenhouse gases.
The removal of carbon dioxide from renewable or fossil fuels before or after combustion.
A process for reducing atmospheric emissions of carbon dioxide by separating it from industrial and energy-related sources, transporting it to a storage location, and safely isolating it from the atmosphere.
The set of processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, and air-sea exchange, by which carbon continuously cycles through various environments, such as the atmosphere, living organisms, soils and oceans.
A naturally occurring, colourless, odourless, non-poisonous gas formed in many processes including respiration, combustion and organic decomposition.
A substance into which carbon dioxide is absorbed, such as an amine.
A colourless, odourless, very toxic gas made up of carbon and oxygen. It is the product of the partial combustion of carbon-containing compounds.
See carbon storage.
In the context of greenhouse gas mitigation initiatives, this refers to the safe, long-term storage of carbon dioxide, usually deep underground in geological (porous rock) formations. Sometimes called carbon sequestration, it is a component process of carbon capture and storage.
A change in the state of the climate that can be identified by changes in the mean and/or the variability of its properties, and that persists for an extended period, typically decades or longer.
The process of transforming coal from a solid fuel into a gaseous fuel through the reaction of coal, an oxidant (such as oxygen), water and heat.
An underground layer of coal.
A gas formed as a by-product during the coalification process whereby organic matter is turned into coal. Also referred to as ‘coal seam methane’ or ‘coal bed methane’.
A process for power generation in which syngas or another gaseous (or sometimes liquid) fuel is used to drive a gas turbine that exhausts hot flue gases. Heat recovered from these gases, with additional firing, is the source for producing steam that drives a steam turbine. The turbines rotate separate alternators. See integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC).
A chemical reaction, between hydrocarbons and oxygen in the case of fossil fuels, producing heat (thermal energy), light and chemical products such as carbon dioxide and water.
A process for extracting otherwise unrecoverable oil from underground deposits. It may involve flooding, carbon dioxide injection or other techniques.
A duct where gases, fluids or air pass.
Non-renewable energy sources including coal, oil and natural gas formed from the remains of living organisms. Fossil fuels are sometimes called non-renewable resources because they take millions of years to form, and reserves are being depleted much faster than new ones are being formed.
Geosequestration is the process of storing CO2 in underground geological (porous rock) formations for the primary purpose of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere.
Energy generated by heat stored in the earth, or the collection of absorbed heat derived from underground in the atmosphere and oceans.
One thousand million tonnes.
Global warming refers to the gradual increase, observed or projected, in global surface temperatures.
Naturally occurring greenhouse gases in the atmosphere – the largest proportion being water vapour – help regulate our earth's temperature by trapping solar radiation and making our world liveable. This is known as the greenhouse effect. However, human induced greenhouse gases are increasing this effect and causing temperatures to rise on earth. The major greenhouse gases of concern are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
Gases in the atmosphere that create a greenhouse effect, trapping heat near the earth’s surface. The major greenhouse gases are water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6).
An organic compound containing chiefly hydrogen and carbon, including coal, peat, oil and methane (natural) gas.
A colourless and odourless gaseous element, it is the lightest and apparently the most abundant chemical element in the universe.
A process for generating power that integrates coal gasification with combined cycle turbines.
Established in 1974, the agency is linked with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It enables OECD member countries to take joint measures to meet oil supply emergencies, to share energy information, to coordinate their energy policies, and to cooperate in developing rational energy use programmes.
A technology associated with power generation, mining or other fossil fuel related industrial processes that, over its life cycle, causes less greenhouse gas emissions than other technological options. Carbon capture and storage is one of a range of low-emissions coal technologies.
One of the six greenhouse gases to be mitigated under the Kyoto Protocol. It is the major component of natural gas and associated with all hydrocarbon fuels, animal husbandry and agriculture. It is also a by-product of the coal formation process and is released when coal is mined. See methane capture and use.
In many underground mines, methane has to be drained from the coal seam prior to mining to ensure safe working conditions. In some cases, it is used to fuel gas turbines for mine site and for urban electricity generation.
See oxyfuel combustion.
The process of burning fuel such as coal using pure oxygen instead of air but mixed with recycled combustion gases to ensure the combustion temperature remains within an acceptable range.
The capability of a rock (or other material) to allow the passage of a fluid or gas. Permeability depends on the size of and the degree of connection among a substance's pores (see porosity).
A joule is a unit of energy. A petajoule is 10 to the 15th joules (10 followed by fifteen zeros).
The ratio of the volume of pore space in rock (or other material) to its total volume. Porosity determines a material’s ability to absorb a liquid or gas.
A system that captures CO2 after combustion.
A system that captures CO2 before combustion.
A natural resource qualifies as a renewable resource if it is replenished by natural processes at a rate comparable to its rate of consumption. Wind, solar, oxygen, fresh water, timber, and biomass can all be considered renewable resources. However they can become non-renewable resources if used at a rate greater than the natural environment's capacity to replenish them.
An aquifer that holds an abundance of saline (salty) water.
A layer of porous rock that holds an abundance of saline (salty) water.
The lowering of the earth’s surface, caused by such factors as compaction, a decrease in groundwater and mining.
Supercritical is a term used to describe a substance at a temperature and pressure above its thermodynamic critical point, where the distinction between liquid and gas disappears and the substance behaves as if it were both liquid and gas. For example, it can diffuse through solids like a gas, and dissolve materials like a liquid.
A combustible mixture chiefly consisting of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (H2), which is the product of the gasification of organic material such as coal.
Similar to supercritical but the substance is at even higher temperatures and pressures. The term is used in power generation, where the steam from the boiler is heated well above the supercritical conditions before being fed to the steam turbine to generate electricity. The very high temperature and pressure results in more efficient power generation.