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Glossary

Earth crust
The crust is the thin, solid, outermost layer of the Earth. The crust is thinnest beneath the oceans, averaging only 5 kilometers thick, and thickest beneath large mountain ranges. Continental crust (the crust that makes up the continents) is much more variable in thickness but averages about 30-35 km. Beneath large mountain ranges, such as the Himalayas or the Sierra Nevada, the crust reaches a thickness of up to 100 km.

Earth’s rotation
Refers to the spinning of the Earth on its polar axis.

Earth’s axis
An imaginary line through the centre of the earth around which it rotates. The actual mean period of one earth rotation is 86 164 seconds(23h 56m 4.095s): it is referred to as sidereal day.

Ecolabelling
A system of approved labels on consumer products confirming their environmental friendliness.

Ecological efficiency
Eco-efficiency is reached by the delivery of competitively priced goods and services that satisfy human needs and bring quality of life, while progressively reducing ecological impacts and resource intensity throughout the life cycle, to a level at least in line with the earth’s estimated carrying capacity. There are seven elements of eco-efficiency: reducing the material requirements for goods and services; reducing the energy intensity of goods and services; reducing toxic dispersion; enhancing material recyclability; maximizing sustainable use of renewable resources; extending product durability; and increasing the service intensity of goods and services. (Source: World Business Council on Sustainable Development)

Ecological niche
The way a species ‘makes its living;’ where it lives, what it consumes, and how it avoids consumption by predators or displacement by other species. Niches can be broad or narrow, depending on the range of foods consumed and the strictness of food preferences.

Ecology
The study of relationships between living organisms and their environment.

Ecomanagement or ecological approach to management
The application of ecological principles to the management of resources to ensure the long-term maintenance of ecosystem structure, function, and composition at appropriate temporal and spatial scales.

Ecosystem
An ecological community of various plants, animals, and other organisms, interacting with each other and with the nonliving resources in their environment, all functioning as a unit.

Ecotone
A zone of gradual transition between two distinct ecosystems, communities, or habitats.

Eco-type
A population of a species that differs genetically from other populations of the same species because local conditions have selected for certain unique physiological or morphological characteristics.

Edaphic
Of the soil, or influenced by the soil. For example, some edaphic factors that influence soil organisms are pH, organic matter content, and hydrology.

Edible
Animal or plant fit to be eaten.

El Niño
Also called El Niño-Southern Oscillation Event, or ENSO) A warmwater current which periodically flows southward along the coast of Ecuador, associated with the Southern Oscillation in the atmosphere, and which affects climate throughout the Pacific region. Approximately once every seven years in late December, prevailing trade winds weaken and the equatorial countercurrent strengthens. Warm surface waters, normally driven westward by the wind to form a deep layer off Indonesia, flow eastward to overlie the cold waters of the Peru Current. The Southern Oscillation is a fluctuation of the intertropical atmospheric circulation in which air moves between the south eastern Pacific subtropical high and the Indonesian equatorial low, driven by the temperature difference between the two areas.

Elasticity
Power of returning to original form or size after non permanent deformation.

Elastomers
A polymeric (see) material that may experience large and reversible elastic deformations.

Electric vehicle
A car, bus, van, or motocycle with an electric motor which is powered by electricity stored in a battery, flywheel or fuel cell.

Electrical energy
The electrical power that is available to make appliances work. (see Power station)

Electrical resistance
Electrical resistance is a measure of how hard it is for a current to pass through a given material. It is similar to the way that it is harder for you to walk through water than air. It is usually measured in Ohms.

Electricity generating power station
One or more large generators, connected through a switchyard to an electricity system.

Electrochemistry
The study of the relation between electricity and chemical change.

Electrode
A conductor by which a current of electricity enters or leaves an electrolytic cell, gas, discharge tube, or thermionic valve.

Electrolyte
An electrolyte is an element or compound that, when dissolved or melted in water or other solvent, dissociates into ions and is able to conduct electric current.

Electromagnetic radiation
Radiation consisting of electric and magnetic waves that travel at the speed of light. Examples: light, radio waves, gamma rays, x-rays.

Electrostatic precipitator
An aid in reducing atmospheric pollution by removing the fly ash before it goes out the smoke stack of a power plant. An electrostatic charge is given to the particles which then adhere to a collector plate having the opposite charge.

EMAS (EcoManagement and Audit Scheme)
The EU environmental management and auditing regulation for industrial companies.

Embargo
A substance, such as exhaust from automobiles, which is released into the environment and contributes to pollution.

Emergency plans
Documents that describe principles, policies, and methods to be applied in carrying out emergency operations and rendering mutual aid during emergencies, including such elements as continuity of functions, mobilization of resources, and public information.

Emission factor
The estimated average emission rate of a given pollutant for a given source, relative to units of activity.

Emulsified asphalt
An emulsified asphalt is a common construction material used to prime, seal or resurface a highway. It consists of an asphalt that is chemically mixed with water in an emulsion.

End use energy
Energy used by final consumers: total energy consumption less consumption losses incurred in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity, less power plant electricity use and annacounted for electrical system energy losses. It is also the sum of fossil fuel consumption in the residential, commercial, industrial, public authorities, and transportation end-use sectors plus electric utility sales to these sectors and generation of hydroelectric power by non-electric utilities.

Endemic
Belonging or native to a particular people or geographic region; a genetically unique life form.

Endogenous (agent)
Derived from within; geologic processes originating from internal causes within the earth or magma.

Energy
The capacity of a body or system to do work. In the metric measurement system, the unit of energy is the Joule, which is the work produced by a force of 1 Newton moving over a distance of 1 meter.

Energy budget
An accounting of the flow of energy through a system. Originally applied by ecologists to ecosystems, the approach is also useful in industry to check the energy efficiency of industrial processes.

Energy conservation
Wise use and careful management of energy resources by reducing wasteful energy use, using energy for a given purpose more efficiently, or reducing energy use altogether. For example, through the use of energy efficient lighting and appliances, turning off lights and appliances when not in use and using insulation and weather stripping. This may also be referred to as energy efficiency (see).

Energy efficiency
Energy efficiency refers to the amount of energy that is used to carry out a particular task such as keeping a building warm in winter or generating electricity from coal. The more energy efficient something is, the less energy it needs to complete the task. Energy efficiency measures can be as simple as fitting draft excluders to doors and windows or technical fixes such as converting power plants into co-generation plants.

Energy measurements
Energy is measured in joules (abbreviated to J). For larger amounts of energy, kiloJoules (kJ) or megaJoules (MJ) are used.

Energy recovery
A form of resource recovery in which the organic fraction of waste is converted to some form of usable energy. Recovery may be achieved through the combustion of processed or raw refuse to produce steam through the pyrolysis of refuse to produce oil or gas; and through the anaerobic digestion of organic wastes to produce methane gas.

Energy savings
The amount by which energy consumptions is reduced as a result of the installation of qualifying energy-efficient equipment. Energy are determined by comparing the efficiency of the installed equipment to that of new standard-efficiency equipment.

Energy sources
The primary source that provides the power that is converted to electricity through chemical, mechanical or other means. Energy sources are 1. fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas); 2. nuclear (fission and fusion); 3. renewables (solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydro).

Entropy
Entropy is the measure of the disorder or randomness of energy and matter in a system.

Environment
The components of the Earth, including air, land, and water, all layers of the atmosphere, all organic and inorganic matter and living organisms, and the interacting systems that include all of these components.

Environmental analysis
The analysis of the environmental effects of proposed actions, including alternative proposals. The analysis are carried out from the very earliest of planning studies for the action in question, and are the material from which the more formal environmental assessment, environmental impact statements, and public record of decisions are made.

Environmental audit (ECOAUDIT)
A management tool comprising a systematic, documented, periodic and objective evaluation of how well a project, organisation or equipment is performing with the aim of helping to safeguard the environment. The audit should facilitate management control of environmental practices and assess compliance with policy objectives and regulatory requirements.

Environmental bilance sheet
Standard form, to be signed by a recognized professional, consisting of a description of the condition of the site and the nature of the surrounding environment, as well as an assessment of the impacts and risk level represented by the site for this environment and its users. The balance sheet must be produced by all businesses subject to the Intervention Program.

Environmental components
Fundamental elements of the natural and human environment. Examples of components include: social, air, water, soils, terrain, vegetation, wildlife, fish, avifauna and land use.

Environmental cost
Costs connected with the actual or potential deterioration of natural assets due to human originated activities.

Environmental impact
Any change to the environment (see), whether adverse or beneficial, wholly or partially resulting from an organization’s activities, products or services. An environmental impact addresses an environmental problem.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
A technique used for identifying the environmental effects of development projects. As a result of Directive 85/337/EEC (as amended 1997), this is now a legislative procedure to be applied to the assessment of the environmental effects of certain public and private projects which are likely to have significant effects on the environment. An EIA requires a scoping study to be undertaken in order to focus the assessment. This can be carried out in the field or as a desk study depending on the nature/scale of the project.

Environmental Impact Statement
Document prepared by an agency on the environmental impacts of its project/programme proposals. See also environmental impact assessment.

Environmental Impact Study (EIS)
Survey conducted to ascertain the conditions of a site prior to the realisation of a project, to analyze its possible impacts and compensative measures.

Environmental indicators
Environmental indicators are selected key statistics which represent or summarize a significant aspect of the state of the environment, natural resource sustainability and related human activities.

Environmental Management System (EMS)
A means of ensuring effective implementation of an environmental management plan or procedures and compliance with environmental policy objectives and targets. A key feature on any effective environmental management system (EMS) is the preparation of documented system procedures and instructions to ensure effective communication and continuity of implementation. There are certification systems for EMS ISO 14001 and EC´s EMAS scheme (EMAS is now compatible with ISO 14001) which demonstrate that a system is operated to an internationally recognised standard. Alternatively a customised system can be developped addressing the particular needs of the operation.

Environmental parameters
Used to collate extensive data for the assessment, comparison and control of developments in operational environmental protection.

Environmental protection
Any activity to maintain or restore the quality of environmental media through preventing the emission of pollutants or reducing the presence of polluting substances in environmental media.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
American federal agency created in 1970 to permit coordinated governmental action for protection of the environment by systematic abatement and control of pollution through integration or research, monitoring, standards setting and enforcement activities.

Environmental quality
State of environmental conditions in environmental media, expressed in terms of indicators or indices related to environmental quality standards.

Environmental radioactivity
Emissions of radiation from particular substances normally present in the environment. Beyond a certain limit, environmental radioactivity may result harmful.

Environmental report
A written report presenting the results of a business’s environmental work.

Environmental restoration
A wide range of activities pertaining to cleanup such as stabilizing contaminated soil; pumping and testing ground water; decommissioning process buildings, nuclear reactors, chemical separations plants, and many other facilities; and exhuming sludge and buried drums of waste.

Environmental vulnerability
Measure of the extent to which a community, structure, service or geographical area is likely to be damaged or disrupted, on account of its nature or location, by the impact of a particular disaster hazard.

Epa
(see Environmental Protection Agency)

Epibenthos
Organisms living at, or just above, the sediment surface.

Epibiosis
Growing on the exterior of living organisms; living on a surface.

Epiphitic
Referring to a plant that lives on the surface of another plant and obtains its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.

Epizoa
Commensal animal living as ectoparasites on other animals.

Equator
Imaginary line circling the earth, halfway between the North and South Poles.

Equivalent Sound Level (LEQ)
The level of a constant sound which, in the given situation and time period, has the same average sound energy, as does a time-varying sound. Specifically, equivalent sound level is the energy-averaged sound pressure level of the individual A-weighted sound pressure levels occurring during the time interval. The time interval over which the measurement is taken should always be specified.

Era (geological)
A large division of geological time consisting of two or more geological periods. Examples are the Paleozoic Era, the Mesozoic Era, the Cenozoic Era and the Neozoic Era.

Erosion
The general process or group of processes whereby the material of the Earth’s crust are loosened, dissolved, or worn away, and simultaneously moved from one place to another, by natural agents like water, ice, wind, and gravity.

Eruption
The process by which solid, liquid, and gaseous materials are ejected into the earth’s atmosphere and onto the earth’s surface by volcanic activity. Eruptions range from the quiet overflow of liquid rock to the tremendously violent expulsion of pyroclastics.

Esters
Any of a class of organic compounds made from the chemical reaction between an alcohol and an organic acid.

Estuary
A semi-enclosed body of water having a free connection with the open sea and within which seawater is diluted measurably by fresh water from land drainage.

ETBE (Ethyl Tertiary Butyl Ether)
An aliphatic ether simil to MTBE (see). This fuel oxygenate is manufactured by reacting isobutylene with ethanol. Having high octane and low volatility characteristics, ETBE can be added to gasoline up to a level of approximately 17% by volume. ETBE is not yet commercially available.

Ethane
A naturally gaseous straight-chain hydrocarbon(C2H6),extracted from natural gas and refinery gas streams.

Ethanol
(also known as ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, CH3CH2OH). Can be produced chemically from ethylene or biologically from the fermentation of various sugars from carboydrates found in agricultural crops and cellulosic residues from crops and woods. Ethanol can be used in higher concentration in alternative-fuel vehicles optimized for its use.

Ethers
A class of organic compounds containing an oxygen atom linked to two organic groups.

Ethology
The study of animal behaviour from a zoological point of view. Ethology emphasizes species-typical behaviour, its adaptiveness, evolution, mechanisms and development.

Ethylene C2H4
A hydrocarbon molecule consisting of two carbon atoms and four hydrogen atoms, used as petrochemical feedstock in production of chemicals and plastics, and as a solvent in enhanced oil recovery processes.

EUBIA (European Bioenergy Industry Association)
European industry association headquartered in Brussels focused on bioenergy use and commercialization. EUBIA promotes the industry interests in the European Commission and delivers consulting services.

Euphotic
The upper part of the marine biome (see) where light penetrates and photosynthesis (see) occurs; usually extends to about 200 meters below the water surface.

Euryhaline
Able to live in waters with a wide range of salinity.

Eurythermic
Capable of tolerating a wide range in temperature.

Eustatic
Relating to or characterized by worldwide change in sea level such as that caused by tectonic movements or by the growth or decay of glaciers. Esustatic change, sea level changes that affect the whole Earth.

Eutrophic
A lake that has a high level of plant nutrients and biological productivity and a low oxygen content.

Eutrophication
The process by which a body of water acquires a high concentration of nutrients, especially phosphates and nitrates, which typically promote excessive growths of algae. As the algae die and decompose, the amount of available oxygen in the water is depleted, in turn causing the death of other organisms, such as fishes. Normally, eutrophication is a natural, slow-aging process for a body of water, but human activity can greatly speed up the process.

Euxinic environment
Describing an environment having restricted circulation and stagnant or anaerobic conditions.

Evaporation
The process by which a substance passes from the liquid state to a gaseous state.

Evaporative emissions
Hydrocarbon vapors that escape from a fuel storage tank or a vehicle fuel tank or vehicle fuel system.

Evolution
The process by which a species’ structural and behavioural characteristics change over many generations, sometimes in response to changes in environmental conditions. “New” species develop in this way. For example, scientists think that whales gradually evolved from land animals.

Exhaust gas
Automotive emission of nitrogen oxides.

Exogenous (agent)
Geologic processes originating at or near the surface of the earth or magma.

Exosphere
The uppermost layer of the atmosphere, its lower boundary is estimated at 500 km to 1000 km above the Earth’s surface. It is only from the exosphere that atmospheric gases can, to any appreciable extent, escape into outer space.

Exotic (non native) species
Any species or other biological material that enters an ecosystem beyond its historic range, including any such organism transferred from one country or state to another.

Exploration costs
Costs, including depreciation and applicable operating costs, of support equipment and facilities and other costs directly identifiable with exploration activities, such as: … Costs of topographical, geological, and geophysical studies, rights of access to properties to conduct those studies, and salaries and other expenses of geologists, geophysical crews, and others conducting those studies. Collectively, these costs are sometimes referred to as geological and geophysical, or ‘G&G’ costs. … Costs of carrying and retaining undeveloped properties, such as delay rentals, ad valorem taxes on the properties, legal costs for title defense, and the maintenance of land and lease records. … Dry hole contributions and bottom hole contributions. Costs of drilling and equipping exploratory wells. … Costs of drilling exploratory-type stratigraphic test wells.

Exploration phase
The phase of operations which covers the search for oil or gas by carrying out detailed geological and geophysical surveys followed up where appropriate by exploration drilling.

Explosive
A chemical that causes a sudden, almost instantaneous release of pressure, gas, and heat when subjected to sudden shock, pressure, or high temperature.

Exponential growth
Growth in the size of a population (or other entity) in which the rate of growth increases as the size of the population increases.

Exposure limits
Exposure limits to pollution, noise and vibrations in the working environment are promoted by the International Labour Organization (ILO).

Extinction
Complete disappearance of a species from the earth. This happens when a species cannot adapt and successfully reproduce under new environmental conditions, when it evolves (through a process called radiation ) into one or more new species, or when every member of the species is killed by overpredation, pollution, or other man-made causes.

 

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