Warmer and sicker? Global warming and human health


endemic. Describes a species (or other unit of classification) that occurs in one particular region in all months of the year, and in all years. For example, the platypus is endemic to southeast Australia, and malaria is endemic to parts of Africa.

global warming. An increase in the average temperature of the Earth's surface. Global warming is one of the consequences of the enhanced greenhouse effect and will cause worldwide changes to climate patterns.

greenhouse gas. A gas that is transparent to incoming solar radiation and absorbs some of the longer wavelength infrared radiation (heat) that the Earth radiates back. The result is that some of the heat given off by the planet accumulates, making the surface and the lower atmosphere warmer. For more information see The greenhouse effect (CSIRO Atmospheric Research, Australia).

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). An organisation established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme to provide the most widely accepted information available about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct new research or monitor climate-related data. Its mandate is to assess existing data and to produce balanced and objective publications. For more information see Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Switzerland).

storm surge. A rise in sea-level accompanying a hurricane or other intense storm. Storm surge height is usually measured as the difference between the observed sea-level height and the normal sea-level height. The main causes of storm surge are wind and reduction in atmospheric pressure.

vector. An organism that transmits parasites, viruses or bacteria from one host to another.

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Page updated August 2006.