There are lots of confusing terms in the world of climate science, meteorology, and the world of NOAA and the National Weather Service. Often somebody new to the arena can get overwhelmed by it all. So this should help.

This list was started by Philip Mulholland, posted on Dr. Roger Pielke’s website, and brought to my attention by Evan Jones in comments. I’ve added some terms relevant to this blog and I will continue to add to it.

Feel free to suggest additions/corrections in the comments below.

Climate Science Acronyms

AAAS American Academy of Arts and Sciences

AAS American Astronomical Society

AASC American Association of State Climatologists

AC Arctic Council

ACIA Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

AGU American Geophysical Union

AMB Australian Meteorological Bureau

AMS American Meteorological Society

AR4 IPCC Working Group 1 report: The Physical Basis of Climate Change

BAMS Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society

BOM-A Bureau of Meteorology, aka Australian Meteorological Bureau

CA Climate Audit website operated by Steve McIntyre

CDIAC Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Center (Oak Ridge, TN)

CCSP Climate Change Science Program

CERN Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire

CIRES Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

CLOUD Cosmics Leaving OUtdoor Droplets

CPC Climate Prediction Center

CRU  Climate Research Unit

ECMWF European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts

EUMETSAT European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites

GAW Global Atmosphere Watch

GCOS Global Climate Observing System

GECC UK Global Environmental Change Committee

GISS Goddard Institute for Space Studies

GFDL Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

GFSC Goddard Space Flight Center not to be confused with GISS

GHCC Global Hydrology & Climate Center

GOOS Global Ocean Observing System

GOS Global Observing System

GTOS Global Terrestrial Observing System

Had Met Office Hadley Center

IASC International Arctic Science Committee

ICECAP International Climate and Environmental Change Assessment Project

ICSU International Council for Science

IOC Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission

IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

MBL Marine Biological Laboratory (aka Woods Hole)

METHC Met Office Hadley Centre

NAMMA NASA African Monsoon Multidisciplinary Analyses

NAS National Academy of Sciences

NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NCAR National Center for Atmospheric Research

NCDC National Climatic Data Center

NCEP National Centers for Environmental Prediction

NHC National Hurricane Center

NSF National Science Foundation

NSIDC National Snow and Ice Data Center

NOAA National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

NRC National Research Council

NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service

NWS National Weather Service

RC Real Climate website, operated by NASA GISS

RMetS Royal Meteorological Society

RSS Remote Sensing Systems – satellite data company

SAR Second Assessment Report IPCC 1995

SPPI Science and Public Policy Institute

TAR Third Assessment Report IPCC 2001

TRMM Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission

UAH University of Alabama in Huntsville, Atmospheric Science Department

UCAR University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

USGCRP US Global Change Research Program

UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

UW University of Washington Department of Atmospheric Sciences

WGMS World Glacier Monitoring Service

WMO World Meteorological Organisation

Climate Science Abbreviations

ACIA Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

ADRF Aerosol Direct Radiative Forcing

AEW African Easterly Waves

AGHG Anthropogenic Greenhouse Gas (Anthro- man made)

AGW Anthropogenic Global Warming (Anthro- man made)

AIRF Aerosol Indirect Radiative Forcing

AMO Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation

AO Arctic Oscillation (aka NAM)

AOD Aerosol Optical Depth

AOGCM Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Model

ARF Aerosol Radiative Forcing

ARIMA AutoRegressive Integrated Moving Average

BT Brightness Temperature

CAGW Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (Anthro- man made)

CAPE Convective Available Potential Energy

CAS Climate Analysis System

CRS Cotton Region Shelter, another name for a Stevenson Screen

CCN Cloud Condensation Nuclei

CINE Convection Inhibition Energy

CO2 Carbon dioxide

CONUS Conterminus United States

COT Cloud Optical Thickness

CRE Cloud Radiative Effect

CRF Cosmic Ray Flux

CRII Cosmic Ray Induced Ionisation

CRN Climate Reference Network

DEAD Dust Entrainment and Deposition

DLF Downward Longwave Flux

DTR Diurnal Temperature Range

DVI Dust Veil Index

ENSO El Nino Southern Oscillation

EOF Empirical Othogonal Function

FACE Free Air Carbon Enrichment

FAR First Assessment Report IPCC 1990

FOIA Freedom of Information Act

GCM General Circulation Model

GCM Global Circulation Model

GCM Global Climate Model

GCR Galactic Cosmic Ray

GHCN Global Historical Climate Network

GHG Greenhouse Gas

GISS Goddard Institute for Space Studies (Columbia Univ, NYC. Dr. Gavin A. Schmidt)

GMST Global Mean Surface Temperature

GOSTA Global Ocean Surface Temperature Atlas

GRL Geophysical Research Letters

GW Global Warming

HadCRUT Hadley Center – Climate Research Unit Temperature

HadSST Hadley Center – Climate Research Unit Sea Surface Temperature

HMF Heliospheric Magnetic Field

IR Infra Red

IRD Ice-Rafted Debris

ISO IntraSeasonal Oscillations

LACC Low Altitude Cloud Cover

LCC Land-Cover Change

LCL Lifting Condensation Level

LFC Level of Free Convection

LFO Low-Frequency Oscillation

LGM Last Glacial Maximum

LI Lifted Index

LIA Little Ice Age

LNB Level of Neutral Bouyancy

LTS Lower-Tropospheric Stability

LUC Land-Use Change

LW LongWave aka LWIR, below

LWC Liquid Water Content

LWIR Long Wave Infra Red

MAGICC Model for the Assessment of Greenhouse gas Induced Climate Change

MAT Marine Air Temperature

MEP Member of European Parliment

MJO Madden-Julian Oscillation

MMTS Max Min Temperature System (thermometer used in USHCN)

MODIS Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

MPA Mobile Polar Anticyclone

MSD Mean Square Differences

MSLP Mean Sea-Level Pressure

MSU Microwave Sounding Unit

MWP Medieval Warm Period

NADW North Atlantic Deep Water

NARR North American Regional Reanalysis

NAM Northern Annular Mode (aka AO)

NAO North Atlantic Oscillation

NATL North Atlantic Tropical Latitude

NH Northern Hemisphere

NPO North Pacific Oscillation

NWP Numerical Weather Prediction

OMR Observation Minus Reanalysis

OPAC Optical Properties of Aerosol and Cloud

PDF Probability Distribution Function

PDO Pacific Decadal Oscillation

PDI Palmer Drought Index (Moisture)

PDI Power Dissipation Index (Hurricanes)

POD Period of Data

QBO Quasi-Biennial zonal wind Oscillation

RCM Regional Climate Model

SAR Synthetic Aperture Radar

SAT Surface Air Temperature

SCENGEN A regional climate SCENario GENerator

SLP Sea Level Pressure

SOI Southern Oscillation Index

SRES Special Report on Emissions Scenarios

SST Sea Surface Temperature

STS Sub Tropical Storms

SW ShortWave

THC Thermo-Haline Circulation (wow, look at the colors)

TOA Top of Atmosphere

TSI Total Solar Irradiance

UHI Urban Heat Island

USHCN US Historical Climate Network

55 thoughts on “Glossary

  1. Anthony,
    In your Glossary, the abbreviation AGW is missing.
    REPLY: Done, thanks. Sometimes the most obvious ones are the hardest to think to include.
    Your website is excellent. Thank you very much.
    Jean Meeus (retired Belgian meteorologist, but still
    active in astronomy)

  2. Dear Anthony,
    Thanks for the glossary! I reckon it could save 100,000 people a few dozen ‘googles’ a month…
    I think you missed CRN in your list, while CCSP, GISS, NOAA, UNEP and CRS are a just off their mark, alphabetically.

  3. Dear Anthony,
    I found another one you may want to include: GHCN.
    By the way: even though the list probably looks nicer and more organised in its current arrangement, wouldn’t you agree that it would be more convenient for lay readers (like myself) to merge the two parts of the glossary into one big list? – Or has my layziness (sorry) really gotten to my head on this one?
    REPLY: Thanks, will add.

  4. UTWV = upper troposphere water vapor
    DWR downwelling radiation
    OLR outgoing longwave radiation
    SL sea level
    SLR sea level rise
    NIPCC Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change
    NACC (US) National Assessment of Climate Change
    CCSP (US) Climate Change Science Program

  5. Anthony,
    Lazy poet that I am, it would be nice if I could click on a acronym in a comment and see its definition. Also, big words. I wonder if there is a program that might automatically do that?
    Some people are never satisfied 🙂
    Love your site.
    REPLY: I Can’t help with the automated acronyms, but I do have a glossary link at the top of the page.
    As for “big words”, how about “Milankovitch Pleistocene climate variation” 😉
    If you want large text, hold down the CTRL key and turn your center mouse scroll wheel and you’ll be able to make the text bigger or smaller.
    Or if you don’t have a mouse wheel use the key combination CTRL and + or CTRL and – to change size.

  6. Anthropo(s) = man in Greek. Not anthro as you indicate
    Genic is from verb geno in Greek, meaning giving birth
    Anthropogenic = given birth by man or technically speaking, man generated
    By the way, Greco says that driving an electric car does not do any good to environment unless you re-charge it using solar power.
    Actually, if you re-charge it using the electricity plug, you may be doing more harm to environment that when using conventional ICE car.
    Greco says your blog is anthropo-eccentric
    REPLY: See my about page for what I’ve done with solar power

  7. The Hot Water Bottle Effect
    By Stephen Wilde in CO2sceptics
    (THWBE) An alternate to the greenhouse effect…

  8. CONUS –
    When I was in the Air Force, it meant the Continental U. S., including Alaska. The Coterminous (equally Conterminous, both ending in ‘ous’) meant the lower 48. Don’t know whether Alaska is included or not in meteorological usage, but that makes the difference.

  9. Evan didn’t post this here:
    evanjones (22:05:23) :
    What means TOBS, SHAP, FILNET ?
    Heads up! These are not in the Glossary and they definitely should be.
    TOBS = Time of Observation bias. Depending on what 24-hour periods you use, you can get some very interesting distortions of the data. The TOBS correction fixes this.
    SHAP = Station History Adjustment Program. This adjusts for station moves or urban creep. (Or else it doesn’t!) Bad/Incomplete SHAP is at the heart of the surface station problems.
    FILNET = A program that fills in a station’s missing data by means of an interpolation algorithm. A subject of great controversy. One of the great advantages of automated collection of data is that it cuts out the “human element” and (in theory) leaves no gaps in the data record.

  10. Anthony, even though I am an agnostic, I can’t help but say “Bless You”. Your and similar BLOGs are doing the world a great service. Please keep up the outstanding work.

  11. Anthony,
    Just found this resource, thank you for the attribution.
    Email me if you would like a copy of my current list.

  12. Very interesting site, but really this is more of an acronym list rather than a glossary.
    For instance, Pacific Decadal Oscillation means nothing more to me than PDO does.
    Is there any type of online primer that you recommend?

  13. I would include JMA (Japan Meteorological Agency).
    Altough it is not widely known, but JMA publishes its own global surface temperature series on a monthly basis. According to JMA global temperature data, the warmest year globally since 1891 was 1998. Their long-term trend estimate is 0.68°c/century, while it is essentially zero for the last 15 years (1997-2011).
    Their global temperature page is available here:
    Monthly anomaly maps:

  14. Appreciate it for all your efforts that you have put in this. very interesting information. “You can’t help someone get up a hill without getting closer to the top yourself.” by Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf.

  15. Excellent. When I started reading this blog a few years ago the fog of acronyms was a big problem.
    Now, PLEASE, add a section on abbreviations, such as h/t, IMO, IMHO etc etc.
    Not all those that you sue are common outside the USA.

  16. Perhaps a section of the Glossary or even another selection under “Resources” that would list some of the names of those involved and what they did or do?

  17. Located within the 7/15/18 post by A. Watts, I suggest the following addition to the glossary…

    EAIS = Eastern Antarctic Ice Sheet


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