A Few Things Ill Considered

A layman's take on the science of Global Warming featuring a guide on How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

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GWAG (Global Warming Acronym Guide)

Scientists love their jargon. On top of that they tend to be lazy typists. This leads to a ton of acronyms that each could mean a dozen things depending on the context.

In the context of the climate change issue, here is a quick list of some of the more common global warming acronyms:

  • AGW - Anthropogenic Global Warming
  • AMO - Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
  • AOGCM - Atmosphere-Ocean couple GCM
  • BC - Black Carbon
  • CS - Carbon Sequestration
  • CCS - Carbon Capture and Storage
  • DJF - Winter (December, January, February)
  • EAIS - East Antarctic Ice Sheet
  • ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation
  • GCM - Global Climate Model or General Circulation Model
  • GHE - Green House Effect
  • GHG - Green House Gas
  • GIS - Greenland Ice Sheet
  • GW - Global Warming
  • GWP - Global Warming Potential
  • IPCC - Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • IR - Infrared Radiation
  • ITCZ - Intertropical Convergence Zone
  • JJA - Summer (June, July, August)
  • LW - Long Wave
  • MBH98 - Mann, Bradely, Hughes 1998 "Hockey Stick" reconstruction
  • MAM - Spring (March, April, May)
  • NAO - North Atlantic Oscillation
  • NH - Northern Hemisphere
  • PPM - Parts per Million
  • PPMV - Parts per Million by volume
  • SAR - Second Assessment Report from the IPCC
  • SH - Southern Hemisphere
  • SL - Sea Level
  • SLE - Sea Level Equivalent
  • SLR - Sea Level Rise
  • SON - Autumn (September, October, November)
  • SRES - Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
  • SST - Sea Surface Temperature
  • SW - Short Wave radiation
  • TAR - Third Assessment Report from the IPCC
  • THC - Thermohaline Circulation
  • TOA - Top of the Atmosphere
  • UNFCCC - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • WAIS - West Antarctic Ice Sheet

(the list will be greatly expanded and alphabetized shortly. Requests will be added immediately)

Here is a monstrously exhaustive list that I have no intention of reproducing here, I'll settle for the most common and important few.



  • At July 06, 2006 9:19 AM, Anonymous Kit Stolz said…


    (Thanks for the translation.)

  • At July 06, 2006 6:17 PM, Anonymous Robert A. Rohde said…

    Months really surprise people:

    DJF = Dec., Jan., Feb. = winter
    JJA = Jun., July, Aug. = summer
    MAM = spring
    SON = fall

    SRES = Special Report on Emissions Scenarios
    UNFCCC = United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
    ITCZ = Intertropical Convergence Zone
    NAO = North Atlantic Oscillation
    ENSO = El Nino Southern Oscillation
    PPM / PPMV = Parts per million by volume

  • At July 06, 2006 7:15 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Thanks Robert, they are incorporated.

  • At July 06, 2006 8:11 PM, Anonymous Robert A. Rohde said…

    CS = Carbon Sequestration
    CCS = Carbon Capture and Storage

    PS. Not every scientist is lazy and jargon loving. Some are just desperate to meet a journal's length requirements. ;-) Also, a few might even think acronyms are easier to read than writing things out over and over again.

  • At July 06, 2006 8:40 PM, Blogger Glen said…

    I was amused that you defined TAR as "Third Assessment Report from the IPCC" but left off IPCC.

    You might also want to throw in MBH (or perhaps MBH98).

  • At July 07, 2006 5:46 AM, Blogger Co2emissions said…

    and M&M - crunchy on the outside, melts into nothing if you go deeper.

    Sorry, Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick

    NB, RAR's mths r NH seasons & wld b rvrsd in SH.

    eek - it's catching!

  • At July 07, 2006 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That's very helpful. Thanks Coby.

    A typo on GWG - Green house gas.

    Nitpick aside, it's perfect.

    - Geoff

  • At July 07, 2006 11:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Sheesh I guess i'll need an acronmym of my own.

    RFTBFC - Refrain from typing before first coffee.

    Make that GHG.

    - Geoff

  • At July 08, 2006 5:38 AM, Blogger cp said…

    Useful list, especially for a non-scietist(=me)

  • At July 09, 2006 3:22 PM, Blogger georgesdelatour said…



    includes the comment:

    "Any time you want to put me up to debate “climate change” with a “scientist” I’m happy to do it."

    Would YOU do it?

  • At July 09, 2006 5:07 PM, Blogger coby said…

    Hi Georges,

    See here.

    Though how useful it will prove is hard to say.

  • At July 11, 2006 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Is there room for one more??

    I attribute the following to Stephan Harrison who posted it on RealClimate:

    CRTPNR --- "catastrophic runaway tipping points of no return".

    John L. McCormick

  • At July 21, 2006 12:51 PM, Blogger Simon Donner said…

    Terrific list. You might want to add GWP (Global warming potential).


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