Coral Bleaching

Corals are subject to ‘bleaching’ when the seawater temperature is too high: they lose the symbiotic algae that give coral its colour and part of its nutrients. Severe, prolonged or repeated bleaching can lead to the death of coral colonies (United Nations, 2017).

Land Degradation

Land degradation means reduction or loss, in arid, semi-arid and dry subhumid areas, of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rainfed cropland, irrigated cropland or range, pasture, forest and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation patterns such as: soil erosion caused by wind and/or water; deterioration of the physical, chemical and biological or economic properties of soil; and long-term loss of natural vegetation (UNCCD, 1993).

Compressive Soils

Compressible soils include both compressive and collapsible soils. Compressive soils are soils that are prone to volumetric change when subject to mechanical loading (USDA, 1990:30). Collapsible soils are metastable in that they are prone to volumetric change (collapse) on wetting and loading (Rogers, 1995).

Runoff / Nonpoint Source Pollution

Nonpoint sources of pollution refer to pollution sources that are diffused and without a single point of origin or not introduced into a receiving freshwater or maritime environment from a specific outlet. The pollutants are generally carried off the land by storm-water run-off. The commonly used categories for nonpoint sources are agriculture, forestry, urban areas, mining, construction, dams and channels, land disposal and saltwater intrusion (UN data, no date).


Saline soils are those which have an electrical conductivity of the saturation soil extract of more than 4 dS/m at 25°C (Richards, 1954). This value is generally used worldwide although the terminology committee of the Soil Science Society of America has lowered the boundary between saline and non-saline soils to 2 dS/m in the saturation extract (FAO, 1988).

Permafrost Loss

Permafrost is defined as the ground that remains frozen under 0°C for a minimum of two consecutive years. Permafrost loss, also known as permafrost thaw is the progressive loss of ground ice in permafrost, usually due to input of heat. Thaw can occur over decades to centuries over the entire depth of permafrost ground, with impacts occurring while thaw progresses. During thaw, temperature fluctuations are subdued because energy is transferred by phase change between ice and water. After the transition from permafrost to non-permafrost, ground can be described as thawed (IPCC, 2019).

Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity loss refers to the reduction of any aspect of biological diversity (i.e., diversity at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels) in a particular area through death (including extinction), destruction or manual removal; it can refer to many scales, from global extinctions to population extinctions, resulting in decreased total diversity at the same scale (IPBES, no date).

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