Adaptation is a means of responding to the impacts of climate change. It is “the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects. In human systems, adaptation seeks to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects” (Source: IPCC). Adaptation aims to moderate the impacts as well as to take advantage of new opportunities or to cope with the consequences of new conditions.
Adaptive capacity refers to the varying characteristics that determine how a climate event is experienced. It refers to the ability of systems, institutions, humans, and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences (Source: IPCC). The capacity to adapt is dependent on a region’s socio-economic and environmental situation as well as the availability of information and technology. Adaptive capacity can reflect the status of poverty, health, knowledge/education, and governance.
Climate Action (or Response Action) refers to “stepped-up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-induced impacts, including: climate-related hazards in all countries; integrating climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning; and improving education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity with respect to climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning” (Source: SDG Goal 13).
Climate change refers to a change in the average weather experienced in a particular region or location. The change may occur over periods ranging from decades to millennia. It may affect one or more seasons (e.g. summer, winter or the whole year) and involve changes in one or more aspects of the weather, e.g. rainfall, temperature or winds. Its causes may be natural (e.g. due to periodic changes in the earth’s orbit, volcanoes and solar variability) or attributable to human activities, e.g. increasing emissions of greenhouse gases such as CO2, land use change and/or emissions of aerosols. Commonly, the term ‘climate change’ often refers to changes due to anthropogenic causes (Source: IPCC).
Climate Projection is a statement of a possible (hopefully likely) future state of the climate system dependent on the evolution of a set of key factors over time (e.g. carbon dioxide emissions) (Source: IPCC).
Climate refers to the average of individual weather conditions in an area, taken over sufficiently long periods of time (Source: IPCC).
Climate variability refers to variations in climate on all spatial and temporal scales beyond that of individual weather events (Source: IRI). This variability may be caused by natural internal processes within the climate system. One of the most important (and widely known) examples of natural climate variability is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Variations may also be caused by external influences which may be due to naturally-occurring phenomena (such as periodic changes in the earth’s orbit around the sun).
Database refers to a structured set of data that is accessible in various ways.
Disaster is a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or society due to a physical event resulting in widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses that require immediate emergency response (Source: UNDRR). A disaster is a negative outcome brought about by high vulnerability (or low adaptive capacity) in the face of exposure to an often sudden event. It is for this reason that an event of similar magnitude in one place may translate into a disaster, but in another may not, depending on the capacity of the population to cope.
Disaster risk management (DRM) refers to the “integrated multisectoral and multidisciplinary administrative, organisational and operational planning processes and capacities aimed at lessening the impacts of natural hazards and related environmental, technological and biological disasters” (Source: Republic of South Africa 2015). Disaster risk management includes all forms of activities to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse effects of hazards.
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is defined as the process of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events (Source: UNDRR). DRR includes all forms of activities to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse effects of hazards.
Droughts may refer to “meteorological drought (below average precipitation), hydrological drought (low river flows and water levels in rivers, lakes and groundwater), agricultural drought (low soil moisture), and environmental drought (a combination of the above)” (Stocker et al. 2013). In this report, drought refers to the extended period of unusually low precipitation that produces a shortage of water (https://www.emdat.be/Glossary).
Early warning system (EWS) refers to the set of capacities needed to generate and disseminate timely and meaningful warning information to enable individuals, communities and organizations threatened by a hazard to prepare and to act appropriately and in sufficient time to reduce the possibility of harm or loss (Source: UNDRR).
El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring natural climate phenomenon that is caused by abnormal warming in sea surface temperatures across the Equatorial Pacific is usually associated with high temperatures and below normal rainfall in the southern hemisphere (Source: NOAA).
Exposure refers to the presence of people, livelihoods, species or ecosystems, environmental functions, services, and resources, infrastructure, or economic, social, or cultural assets in places and settings that could be adversely affected (Source: IPCC).
Extreme (weather or climate) event is the unusual, severe or unseasonal occurrence of a weather or climate variable at the extremes of the historically observed values; the range that has been observed in the past (Source: IPCC).
Extreme temperature refers to both cold waves and heat waves (https://www.emdat.be/Glossary).
Floods refer to riverine, flash and coastal flood events and in South Africa are the result of tropical cyclones, cut-off lows, and thunderstorms which cause heavy rainfall and high runoff volumes (https://www.emdat.be/Glossary).
Global Climate Models or global circulation models (GCMs), refer to complex computer models represent interactions between the different components of the climate system, such as the land surface, the atmosphere and the oceans. GCMs simulate climate under a range of emission scenarios each representing a plausible future (Source: IPCC).
Global warming refers only to the overall warming of the Earth, based on average increases in temperature over the entire land and ocean surface (Source: NOAA).
Greenhouse Gas refers to a gas that contributes to the greenhouse effect by absorbing infrared radiation. Examples include carbon dioxide, methane and chlorofluorocarbons (Source: IPCC).
Hazard refers to the physical parameters (e.g. rainfall or temperature) that may cause property damage, loss of livelihoods and services, economic disruption, or environmental damage. A hazard can be incremental temperature or precipitation change, which unfolds gradually over a long time, or it can refer to weather-related hazards, such as droughts, floods and heat waves (Source: UNDRR).
Impacts refer to the effects of climate change on natural and human systems (Source: IPCC).
Mitigation refers to the measures taken to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and to enhance sinks (i.e. ways of reducing) of greenhouse gases (Source: IPCC).
Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) refers to the process that helps improve current and future management and achieve outcomes. It is a tool to support the understanding and prioritization of actions to assist decision making. M&E is critical in ensuring the long-term success of climate adaptation initiatives, plans and actions.
Radiative forcing is a measure of the energy absorbed and retained in the lower atmosphere (Source: IPCC).
Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) are four greenhouse gas concentration trajectories adopted by the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report and describe four possible climate futures. The RCP’s are named according to their 2100 radiative forcing level. There are four pathways - RCP2.6, RCP4.5, RCP6.0 and RCP8.5 (Source: IPCC)..
Resilience is defined as the capacity for a socio-ecological system to (a) absorb stresses and maintain normal functioning in the face of external stress and (b) to adapt in order to be better prepared for future impacts (Source: UNDRR).
Risk refers to the likelihood of an adverse impact from an event. Risk is often represented as the probability of occurrence of hazardous events or trends multiplied by the impacts if these events or trends occur. Risk results from the interaction of vulnerability, exposure, and hazard (Source: IPCC).
Sensitivity is the degree to which a system or species is affected, either adversely or beneficially, by climate variability or change. The effect may be direct (e.g., a change in crop yield in response to a change in the mean, range, or variability of temperature) or indirect (e.g., damages caused by an increase in the frequency of coastal flooding due to sea level rise) (Source: IPCC).
Storms refer to tropical, extra-tropical and convective storm events as well as coastal storm surges (https://www.emdat.be/Glossary).
Vulnerability is the propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected. Vulnerability encompasses a variety of concepts and elements including sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt (Source: IPCC).
Weather describes the set of meteorological phenomena we experience on a daily basis. Weather conditions might be sunny and hot, or cloudy and rainy. We expect changes in weather to occur from day to day (Source: NOAA).
Wildfires refer to any uncontrolled and non-prescribed burning of plants in a natural setting (https://www.emdat.be/Glossary).