angle The space (usually measured in degrees) between two intersecting lines or surfaces at or close to the point where they meet.
Atlantic One of the world’s five oceans, it is second in size only to the Pacific. It separates Europe and Africa to the east from North and South America to the west.
atmosphere The envelope of gases surrounding Earth or another planet.
attribution science A field of research, largely used in climate studies. It seeks to test whether — and by how much — climate change may be responsible for certain extreme weather events, such as droughts, extreme flooding, hurricanes, excessive heat or odd storm trajectories.
Caribbean The name of a sea that runs from the Atlantic Ocean in the East to Mexico and Central American nations in the West, and from the southern coasts of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico down to the northern coasts of Venezuela and Brazil. The term is also used to refer to the culture of nations that border on or are islands in the sea.
climate The weather conditions that typically exist in one area, in general, or over a long period.
climate change Long-term, significant change in the climate of Earth. It can happen naturally or in response to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests.
consensus An opinion or conclusion shared by most, if not all, of a specific group.
coral Marine animals that often produce a hard and stony exoskeleton and tend to live on reefs (the exoskeletons of dead ancestor corals).
cyclone A strong, rotating vortex, usually made of wind. Notable examples include a tornado or hurricane.
gold standard A common term used to mean the premier currently most reliable standard for judging the quality or authenticity of something.
hurricane A tropical cyclone that occurs in the Atlantic Ocean and has winds of 119 kilometers (74 miles) per hour or greater. When such a storm occurs in the Pacific Ocean, people refer to it as a typhoon.
link A connection between two people or things.
NASA Short for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Created in 1958, this U.S. agency has become a leader in space research and in stimulating public interest in space exploration. It was through NASA that the United States sent people into orbit and ultimately to the moon. It also has sent research craft to study planets and other celestial objects in our solar system.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) A science agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Initially established in 1807 under another name (The Survey of the Coast), this agency focuses on understanding and preserving ocean resources, including fisheries, protecting marine mammals (from seals to whales), studying the seafloor and probing the upper atmosphere.
physical (adj.) A term for things that exist in the real world, as opposed to in memories or the imagination.
projection Some feature that extends out (or projects) from the body of a structure.
radius A straight line from the center to the circumference of a circle or sphere.
reef A ridge of rock, coral or sand. It rises up from the seafloor and may come to just above or just under the water’s surface.
satellite A moon orbiting a planet or a vehicle or other manufactured object that orbits some celestial body in space.
sea level The overall level of the ocean over the entire globe when all tides and other short-term changes are averaged out.
storm surge A storm-generated rise in water above normal tidal level. In most cases, the largest cause of storm surge is strong onshore winds in a hurricane or tropical storm.
tropical cyclone A strong, rotating storm. These usually form over tropical areas around the equator where the water is warm. Tropical cyclones have strong winds of more than 119 kilometers (74 miles) per hour and usually have heavy rain. Large ones in the Atlantic are known as hurricanes. Those in the Pacific are termed typhoons.
tropics The region near Earth’s equator. Temperatures here are generally warm to hot, year-round.
weather Conditions in the atmosphere at a localized place and a particular time. It is usually described in terms of particular features, such as air pressure, humidity, moisture, any precipitation (rain, snow or ice), temperature and wind speed. Weather constitutes the actual conditions that occur at any time and place. It’s different from climate, which is a description of the conditions that tend to occur in some general region during a particular month or season.