A Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection and University of Connecticut Partnership
Long Island Sound Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change Program

Glossary and Abbreviations

Some of the definitions presented here are standard definitions taken from EPA documents, particularly the document Developing and Implementing an Estuarine Water Quality Monitoring, Assessment, and Outreach Program (U.S. EPA, 2002a).


Acidification In the context of climate change, acidification is a decrease in the pH of a solution, such as seawater, due specifically to the incorporation of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the water. The pH of seawater is typically 7.5-8.4 (reference: a pH of 7.0 indicates a neutral solution and a pH of greater than 7.0 indicates a basic solution).

Adaptation Adjustment in natural or human systems to a new or changing environment. Adaptation to climate change refers to adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities (IPCC Third Assessment Report Working Group III: Mitigation).

Algae A group of aquatic, photosynthetic, eukaryotic organisms ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, and generally possess chlorophyll but lack true roots, stems and leaves characteristic of terrestrial plants (Biology Online).

Anthropogenic A process or impact that is due to human activity.

Bathymetry The measurement of the depth of an ocean or other large body of water (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Benthos Organisms living on or in ocean, sea or lake bottoms – or as in this case, Long Island Sound.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) A gas that is generated through both natural and anthropogenic activities. When dissolved in water, CO2 and water combine to form carbonic acid, resulting in acidification of seawater.

Chlorophyll a A green pigment in phytoplankton that transforms ultraviolet (UV) light energy into chemical energy during the process of photosynthesis (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Climate Drivers The major climate drivers, or forcing phenomenon, that has an effect on Earth's changing climate. These include greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, as well as the tilt and wobble of the earth, sun heat and magnetic variation, ocean circulation, and others.

Climate forcing A way to measure how substances such as greenhouse gases affect the amount of energy that is absorbed by the atmosphere. An increase in climate, or radiative, forcing leads to warming, while a decrease produces cooling (U.S. EPA, 2010).

Decomposition The breakdown of organic matter by bacteria and fungi (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Dissolved Oxygen (DO) The concentration of free molecular oxygen that is dissolved in water, usually expressed in milligrams per liter (mg/L), parts per million (ppm), or percent of saturation. DO allows fish and other life to live in water. Levels of 5 mg O2/L are optimal for sustaining life; most fish cannot survive prolonged periods at low levels of dissolved oxygen. (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Drivers See Climate Drivers and Ecological Drivers.

Ecological Drivers Are climate related factors that cause measurable changes in properties of the physical, chemical and biological environment. Examples of ecological drivers are factors such as variability in rainfall and available nitrogen.

Ecosystem An ecosystem is a biotic community together with its physical and chemical environment, considered as an integrated unit (USACE, 1999).

Estuary A semi-enclosed coastal body of water that has free connection with the open sea and within which sea water is diluted by fresh water from land drainage (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Eutrophication Overenrichment of a water body by nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen.

Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB) A small percentage of algal species cause harm to humans and the environment through toxin production or excessive growth. HABs occur naturally, but human activities that disturb ecosystems in the form of increased nutrient loadings and pollution, food web alterations, introduced species, and water flow modifications have been linked to the increased occurrence of some HABs (Lopez et al, 2008).

Hypoxia According to Long Island Sound Study standards, hypoxia is defined as dissolved oxygen concentrations less than 3.0 mg O2/L.

Impervious surfaces Are usually constructed surfaces such as roads and roofs that are covered by impenetrable materials. These materials prevent the infiltration of water. Highly compacted soils in urban environments are also considered impervious surfaces.

Indicator A representative of the state of certain environmental conditions over a given area and a specified period of time (EPA Indicators Report:

Invasive species A species that is: 1) non-native (or alien) to the ecosystem under consideration, and 2) whose introduction causes or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health. (National Executive Order of the President of the U.S. 13112, 1999).

Land Use Modification of the natural environment by humans for agricultural, commercial, residential, recreational or other uses.

Metric A set of measurements that quantify results (

Nonpoint source (NPS) A source of water pollution that is not a “point source” as defined by section 502(14) of the Clean Water Act as any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance. NPS pollution comes from many diffuse sources and is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As this water, or runoff, moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters (U.S. EPA, 2010c).

Parameter A variable, measurable property whose value is a determinant of the characteristics of a system (taken directly from: (USEPA 2011).

Pathogens Disease-causing organisms (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Pelagic Living in or related to open oceans and seas (or here, Long Island Sound).

pH Scale Scale used to determine the alkaline or acidic nature of a substance. A pH of 1.0 indicates a pure acid and 14 is a purely alkaline (basic) substance. Pure water is neutral (pH of 7.0) (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Phytoplankton Phytoplankton are microscopic floating photosynthetic organisms in aquatic environments, both freshwater and seawater (Encyclopedia of Earth, 2008).

Salinity Amount of salts dissolved in water, usually expressed in parts per thousand (ppt). Within an estuary, salinity levels are referred to as oligohaline (0.5-5.0 ppt), mesohaline (5.0-18.0 ppt), or polyhaline (18.0-30.0 ppt) (U.S. EPA, 2006b).

Sentinel A measurable variable that is susceptible to some key aspect of climate change and which is being monitored for the appearance of climate change.

Stress From an ecological perspective, a stress is a change that causes a response in a system or population of interest. (taken directly from:; Oz Coasts 2011).

Stressors Major physical, chemical and/or biological components of the environment that, when changed by human or other activities, can cause adverse effects on ecosystems and natural resources (Oz Coasts 2011; U.S. EPA 2011).

Submerged Aquatic Vegetation (SAV) Vascular, rooted aquatic plants, living at or near the water’s surface.

Turbidity Measure of water clarity (degree to which light is blocked due particulate matter suspended in the water column; U.S. EPA, 2002a).

Watershed All land and water areas (such as streams and rivers) that drain toward a given water body, such as an estuary, wetland, or ocean. Also sometimes called a drainage basin, they are separated from others by a drainage divide (U.S. EPA, 2002a).

List of Abbreviations

ANS Aquatic Nuisance Species

CCE Cornell Cooperative Extension [Suffolk County, NY]

CCMP Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan

Chl a Chlorophyll a

CO2 Carbon Dioxide

CPUE Catch Per Unit Effort

CRE Climate Ready Estuaries [USEPA]

CRESLI Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island

CSHH Coalition to Save Hempstead Harbor

CSO(s) Combined Sewer Overflow(s)

CT Connecticut

CTDEP Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

CTDEEP Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

CT DA Connecticut Department of Agriculture

CT DA/BA Connecticut Department of Agriculture Bureau of Aquaculture

CTDPH Connecticut Department of Public Health

CTSG Connecticut Sea Grant

CVI Coastal Vulnerability Index [USGS]

DO Dissolved Oxygen (expressed in milligrams per liter [mg/l])

EPA United States Environmental Protection Agency

FFY Federal Fiscal Year

FOB Friends of the Bay [Oyster Bay]

FY Fiscal Year

GPS Global Positioning System

HAB Harmful Algal Bloom

HPLC High-performance liquid chromatography

ICF ICF International, Inc.

IEC Interstate Environmental Commission

IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

LI Long Island

LIS Long Island Sound

LISFF Long Island Sound Futures Fund

LISO Long Island Sound Office [USEPA]

LISRC Long Island Sound Resource Center

LISS Long Island Sound Study

LISRA Long Island Sound Restoration Act

MADL Marine Animal Disease Laboratory [Stony Brook University]

MC Management Committee

NEIWPCC New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission

NEMO Non-point source Education for Municipal Officials

NECIA Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment

NEP National Estuary Program [USEPA]

NFWF National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

NGO Non-Governmental Organization

NMFS National Marine Fisheries Service [NOAA]

NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

NPS Nonpoint Source [pollution]

NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service

NY New York (referring to the state)

NYC New York City

NYCDEP New York City Department of Environmental Protection

NYDOT New York Department of Transportation

NYS New York State

NYSDEC New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

NYSDOH New York State Department of Health

NYSDOS New York State Department of State

QAPP Quality Assurance Project Plan

RFP(s) Request for Proposal(s)

SAV Submerged Aquatic Vegetation

SBU Stony Brook University [SUNY]

SET Surface Elevation Table

SLR Sea level rise

SMCCP Sentinel Monitoring for Climate Change in Long Island Sound Program

SoMAS School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences [Stony Brook University]

spp. species

STAC Science and Technical Advisory Committee

SUNY State University of New York

TNC The Nature Conservancy

UConn University of Connecticut

UCS Union of Concerned Scientists

USCG United States Coast Guard

USDA United States Department of Agriculture

USDOI United States Department of the Interior

USFWS United States Fish and Wildlife Service

USGS United States Geological Survey

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