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By Brenda Wilmoth Lerner and K. Lee Lerner

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GLACIAL BERGS: Icebergs that have formed by breaking off the edge of a glacier that is flowing to the sea. GLACIAL CYCLE: Episode in Earth climate history in which temperatures decline and glaciers grow and spread, sometimes covering large parts of the northern and southern hemispheres. The most recent glacial cycle ended about 10,000 years ago. GLACIAL LAKE: Lake fed by meltwater from a glacier or glaciers. GLACIAL RETREAT: Melting and shrinkage of glaciers at the end of a glacial cycle. GLACIAL TILL: Rock and soil scoured from Earth and transported by a glacier, then deposited along the glacier’s sides or at its end.

CARBON TAX: Mandatory fee charged for the emission of a given quantity of CO2 or some other greenhouse gas. Under a carbon taxation scheme, polluters who emit greenhouse gases must pay costs that are directly proportional to their emissions. The purpose of a carbon tax is to reduce greenhouse emissions. Carbon taxation is the main alternative to emissions trading. CARBON TETRACHLORIDE: A compound of carbon that has all four bonding positions each filled with a chlorine atom. CARBON TRADING: Buying and selling of carbon credits, abstract instruments (like money) that each represent the right to emit 1 ton of carbon dioxide or an equivalent amount of other greenhouse gases.

The atmosphere—composed mainly of nitrogen and oxygen with traces of carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases—acts as a buffer between Earth and the sun. The layers—troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere, and the exosphere—vary around the globe and in response to seasonal changes. ATMOSPHERIC CHEMISTRY: Study of the chemistry of planetary atmospheres. The interactions of pollutants, greenhouse gases, Earth’s natural atmosphere, solar CLIMATE CHANGE: IN CONTEXT Glossary radiation, and other factors are all studied under the aegis of atmospheric chemistry.

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