Word-Nerdery: Terminology for Our Time #2



The cryosphere (from Greek “krios”, meaning “cold”) refers to those parts of the Earth’s surface where water is in solid form. These areas include ice (river, lake, and sea), snow cover, frozen ground, glaciers, ice sheets and ice caps. (for unfrozen water, see also the related term “hydrosphere.”)

A collaboration between the University of Waterloo and other organizations has led to the Canadian Cryospheric Information Network and the Polar Data Catalogue, committed to supporting polar research throughout Canada’s Arctic.

Refugia (singular, “refugium”; adjective, “refugial”)

A term in biology that designates a place supporting an isolated or remaining population of a species (animal or plant) that in the past extended over an area that was larger or at some distance away. This may be due to climate change, hunting or collecting, loss of forests, or human activities that shrink habitat and force species to become “refugees” retreating to a smaller and possibly distant home area to survive.

Examples of refugial animals include the Australian sea lion and the mountain gorilla. For these and many other species, global warming threatens further displacement, reduced habitat niches, or extinction.

Psychoterratic syndromes

This umbrella term was created by researchers and clinicians to meet the need for new categories that capture the emotions around the climate crisis, including threats to human security and mental health. Worrisome forms of instability, climate denial, depression, grief, anxiety, pessimism and anguish are creating stresses and behaviours that call out for new forms of clinical help, along with the language to describe this changing landscape. Mental health practitioners are beginning to address these clusters of state-of-the-Earth psychological (psychoterratic) issues currently confronting their clients, themselves, and their colleagues.


When Arctic permafrost contains excess ice, thawing and melting of the ground can result in new landforms, including slumps and landslides. This process (and the resulting terrain typified by hollows and hummocks) is referred to as “thermokarst.”

Studies of Canada’s Banks Island have provided evidence of the phenomenon, leading to concerns about further melting of ice-dense permafrost.

Climaduction (pending fact-checking)

The abbreviated form of “Climate-related alien abduction.” Since June of 2018, 425 individuals in the Peterborough area have been snatched up and subjected to lab-based, probing examination by hovering extraterrestrials studying the effects of climate change on temperate zone Earthlings. Abduction sites include Bridgenorth, the Black Honey patio, and Tim Hortons drive-thru line-ups, where customers waiting for fries are being yanked out of driver’s-side car windows. A Municipal Comfort Team offers returning abductees hot chocolate, first-aid, counselling, lottery tickets, and full rebates for melted or lost shoes.

Word-Nerdery: Terminology for Our Time #2 © 2024 by Tom Hurley in the Greenzine is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 


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