Glossary

chlorophyll
A green pigment found in the leaves of plants, algae, and certain types of bacteria. The pigment absorbs light and converts it to chemical energy, which is used to convert carbon dioxide from the air into sugars that the organisms use for fuel.
concentration
The amount of a substance that is in a certain volume.
eddy correlation
A method of studying how the whatever is on the earth’s surface affects the air above it by measuring how air flow moving vertically corresponds to air moving horizontally, the temperature of the air, and the density of various gases and carbon dioxide in the air.
flux
How much of a substance moves through a unit of area per unit time. In other words, the rate of flow of a gas between a source and a sink.
greenhouse gas
A gas in the atmosphere that absorbs heat radiated by the earth and then emits it into the atmosphere, warming the earth's climate.
nitrogen
The most common gas in the air, comprising about 72% of the atmosphere.
ozone
A form of oxygen that has three atoms, rather than the more common oxygen molecule’s two atoms.  Ozone is produced naturally, by the energy in sunlight acting on oxygen molecules in the air, and by industrial and automotive processes. Ozone in the stratosphere absorbs most of the short-wave light from the sun that would otherwise reach the earth’s surface, protecting life on the surface from dangerous ultraviolet radiation. Ozone in the troposphere, on the other hand, is considered a pollutant; it can damage living tissue and break down certain materials, and it contributes to climate change.
ozone analyzer
The instrument constructed by our research team to measure the presence of ozone in tiny amounts near the surface of the sea.
ozone budget
The balance of exchanges (creation and loss) of ozone between sources and sinks, or between various environmental systems, such as the atmosphere and the biosphere.
photon
A tiny packet of light or other electromagnetic energy, which acts as a wave or a particle depending on its context. A photon is the smallest possible amount of light. It always travels at the speed of light and does not have any mass.
plankton
Tiny plants and animals that live in oceans and lakes, drifting with tides and currents. Although they are microscopic, their numbers are so massive that they make up most of the life in the world's oceans.
proxy
A variable that is not specifically of interest in the problem at hand, but that can substitute for or yield a variable of interest.
stratosphere
The layer of the atmosphere that lies between the troposphere and the mesosphere; in other words, from about 15 kilometers (9 miles) to 55 kilometers (34 miles) above the earth’s surface. The temperature of the stratosphere is relatively constant.
sink
A system that absorbs a given trace gas or chemical.
source
A system that emits a given trace gas or chemical.
troposphere
The layer of the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface, reaching from the ground to 10 or 15 kilometers (6 or 9 miles) altitude. Temperature in the troposphere decreases with increasing altitude.  Most of the earth’s weather (clouds, rain, etc.) is contained in the troposphere.

A copepod, one type of plankton that lives in the seas of the Arctic. When plankton die and decompose, they oxidize—-unsaturated fatty acids grab on to oxygen molecules and are transformed into substances like aldehydes and carboxylic acids. That reaction absorbs some of the ozone in the atmosphere. Photo courtesy of the Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) Glossary of Terminology, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A view of high wind and waves from the research vessel Ronald H. Brown. Photo by Chris Fairall.