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Edexcel A Level Geography Glossary

The key vocabulary you need to learn for your Edexcel A Level Geography paper. Find all the terms and definitions you need to understand, from ‘ablation’ to ‘xerophytes’.

A (ablation to authoritarian)

The natural removal of snow or ice from the surface of a glacier by melting, sublimination, or calving.

The grinding away of bedrock by fragments of rock which may be incorporated in ice.

absolute poverty
When household income is below a level necessary to maintain basic living standards.

Pumping water from the ground (groundwater storage) or taking it from river sand lakes.

The addition of mass to a glacier, usually as snow.

acidic lava
Explosive lava associated with destructive margins.

The action or process of making or becoming acidic.

active layer
The top layer of permafrost that thaws in the summer and refreezes again in the winter.

Actions to adjust lifestyle choices to reduce vulnerability or increase resilience to a possible hazard.

adaptation strategy
Adopting new ways of doing things to live with the likely outcomes of climate change.

Relates to the management and organisation of governmental or organisational functions, often pertaining to decision-making processes and policies.

The fraction of sunlight that is reflected by a body. It is measured on a scale from 0 (corresponding to a black body that absorbs all sunlight) to 1 (a surface which reflects most sunlight, e.g, snow).

alternative economic model
Way of running a country’s economy using more socialist principles and mechanisms rather than western capitalist methods.

A point on a graph which does not follow the general trend.

High pressure areas which can block rainfall.

Opposition towards the process and impacts of globalisation.

A proposed geological epoch from 1950 to the present day.

The Australia, New Zealand, and United States Security Treaty.

Water held within permeable rock; a groundwater store of water held in sedimentary rock.

Narrow, sharp-edged ridges formed when two glaciers flow back to back.

Acroymn for Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Process where individuals and groups of different ethnicities and cultures take on the characteristics of a country or region.

The plastic (semi molten) part of upper mantle upon which the lithosphere sits.

asylum seeker
Person who has left their home country and is wanting safety and protection in another.

AT Kearney index
Measures how globalised cities are using data on economic integration, personal contacts, technological connectivity and political engagement.

The layer of gas surrounding earth.

ATS Antarctic Treaty System
Range of treaties and conventions focusing on the management and protection of the area south of 60°S including Antarctica.

attachment to place
The emotional or psychological connection individuals or communities have with a particular location due to personal, cultural, or historical reasons.

The gradual wearing down of rock particles by impact and abrasion, leading to a reduced particle size and rounder, smoother stones.

A form of government where political power is concentrated centrally.

B (bankfull discharge to building codes)

bankfull discharge
The point at which rivers top their banks and may start to flood.

barrier beach

A landform created when a spit joins one headland with another, also referred to as a bar.

basal slip

Large-scale and often quite sudden movement of a portion of ice in a glacier, usually lubricated by subglacial meltwater.

basic lava

Low-explosivity lava associated with constructive margins and hotspots.

Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
China-led global infrastructure project.

Benioff zone

A line of earthquakes following the subducting plate at a destructive boundary.

bilateral energy pathway

An energy pathway which crosses two countries.


The range and variability of living organisms within a species, between species and in an ecosystem.


Global ecosystem of living and non living organisms, includes land and marine based environments; The global store of water within living things.


Two opposing superpowers share dominance of the global political system. They can have different ideologies.


A dense, highly viscous, petroleum-based hydrocarbon that is found in deposits such as tar sands.

The process on a slope of a rock fragment breaking away and dropping vertically or bouncing down the slope.

boreal forest (taiga)

Forest area with warm summers and very cold winters. 


Acronym of group of emerging economies and powers (including Brazil, Russia, India and China).

British Empire

Global system of dependencies under British sovereignty and government, at its largest in the early 20th century. 

building codes

Standard of building quality and design to mitigate against hazards.

C (capitalism to cusps)

Economic and political system dominated by private ownership of business, industry and property with the aim of making a profit.

carbon capture and storage (CCS)
The process of trapping carbon dioxide produced by burning fossil fuels and storing it in such a way that it is unable to affect the atmosphere.

carbon emissions
Release of gases containing carbon into the atmosphere.

carbon footprint
A measure of the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere because of the activities of a particular individual, organisation, or community.

carbon neutral
Greenhouse gas emissions are offset. For example, in business steps are taken to remove the equivalent amount of CO2 to what’s emitted through activities across their supply chains, by investing in ‘carbon sinks’ that absorb CO2.

carbon sink
Anything that absorbs more carbon than it releases.

carbonate pump
Operates within the ocean transferring carbon from shallow to deep ocean.

Governments or other organisations change, suppress or prohibit ideas, speech or writings.

Where river banks are covered with concrete embankments to speed the flow of rivers.

chemical weathering
The breakdown or decay of rocks involving a chemical change

child mortality
The mortality of children under the age of five.

chi-squared test
A statistical method used to find the strength of association between two sets of categorical data.

choke point
Points in the logistics of energy and fuel that are prone to restriction.

cirque / corrie / cwm
A horseshoe-shaped valley which is formed through erosion by ice or glaciers.

climate belts
A zone of latitude with similar climates. 

climate change
The changing of the earth’s climate due to global warming.

closed-door policy
Refers to government practices that restrict or control the entry of people into a country or region.

CO2 fertilisation effect
An effect caused by increased levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Results in an increased rate of photosynthesis while limiting leaf transpiration in plants.

Cold War
Period of geopolitical tension and hostility between the USA and its allies and the Soviet Union (1945-1991).

Pertaining to activities related to buying, selling, and trading goods and services for profit.  In land use terms, this usually manifests itself as offices.

community cohesion
A sense of belonging within a community.

commuter village
Small residential areas located on the outskirts of urban centres, where residents typically commute to work in nearby cities or towns.

Refers to disagreements, disputes, or struggles that arise between individuals, groups, or nations due to differing interests, values, or goals.

Preserving or protecting water supply.

Subject to disagreement or debate, often implying that different perspectives or parties have conflicting interpretations.

continental drift
Movement of the continents on tectonic plates due to convection and ‘slab-pull ridge-push’.

Where plumes of superheated mantle rise to the asthenosphere and move plates through friction.

convectional rainfall
Warm moist air rises rapidly in tropical areas or in the UK during late summer.  This cools rapidly and releases the moisture as thunderstorms and heavy rainfall.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
International agreement to ensure the international trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten species survival

coral bleaching
Whitening of coral resulting from loss of symbiotic algae or degradation of the algae’s photosynthetic pigment.

The breaking down of rock by chemical action, often involving the dissolving of alkaline rock by weak acids in seawater.

Dishonest conduct by those in power, usually with financial fraud.

Corruption Perceptions Index
An indicator of the perceived level of public sector corruption in countries.

Making an illegal copy of a good or product.

Population movement from large urban areas to smaller urban areas and rural areas.

crag and tail
Steep, craggy upstream slope (crag) and a gentle, elongated, tapering downstream slope (tail).

critical values table
A table of numerical values used to determine whether or not a calculated value (from a statistical test) is significant.

The global store of glacial ice, snow and permafrost; the frozen water part of the Earth system.

cultural and ethnic composition
Make up of a society or country with individuals and groups who share common characteristics, e.g. language, beliefs, origins.

cultural diffusion
Spread and exchange of different cultures from their original location to other places around the world.

cultural diversity
The presence of multiple and varied cultural groups within a society, characterised by differences in language, religion, traditions, and customs. 

cultural enrichment
The process of enhancing cultural diversity and understanding by exposing individuals to different cultural practices, traditions, and viewpoints. 

cultural erosion
The gradual loss or dilution of a particular culture’s traditions, customs, and values, often due to external influences or assimilation into a dominant culture. 

cultural identity
The sense of belonging to a particular group or cultural practice.

Cubic metres per second. 

cuspate foreland
A low-lying headland formed when two double spits join and material is deposited out into the sea in a triangular shape. 

Small crescent-shaped indents which are formed on the beach when two swashes converge.

D (Dalmatian to dune stabilisation)

A type of submergent concordant coastline consisting of narrow islands visible above the sea level.

Where inputs into the system are lower than output meaning water is lost. 

The removal of forest or woodland.

The deterioration or loss of the productive capacity of the soils.

A form of government which is freely and fairly elected.

A system of government where power is exercised by the mass of the people.

Relates to the statistical characteristics of a population’s age, gender, and ethnicity.

demographic impact
Effect on population such as birth rate, numbers, age, and gender.

Dependency Theory
Franks’s core-periphery model showing relationships between the developed (core) and developing (periphery) world. 

The sediment leftover when wind, sea, ice or flowing water loses energy and drops the material it has been carrying.

An area of low atmospheric pressure.

Refers to the lack of necessities, resources, or opportunities, often resulting in lower standards of living and quality of life.

Removal or reduction of laws and rules to increase competition. 

Turning seawater into freshwater at coastal locations using salt-separating membranes and the process of reverse osmosis.

The increasing degradation of land to become more desert-like.

destination area
Place a migrant moves to.

detached country
A country which has limited access to global markets and networks.

development aid
Financial aid given to developing countries to support their long-term economic, political, social and environmental development.

direct military intervention
Use of weapons and service personnel to instigate change in a place.

When a potential hazard affects people causing significant impacts.

disaster hotspot
Location which experience multiple-hazards and have vulnerable populations.

disaster trend
The pattern of disaster statistics across time.

The volume of flow in a river at a given point at a given time.

Measures of dispersion describe the spread of data around a central value (mean, median or mode).

displaced person
A person who has moved outside of their usual place of residence, often due to conflict, violence, poverty or disaster. 

The strategy of expanding the range of products or services offered by an organisation or a place, to reduce risk and enhance stability.

Variation within a population, in their characteristics, background and behaviour.

dot maps
A map that uses small dots that each represent the same value to show the distribution of data within an area.

double spit
A landform created when there are two opposing wave directions, and longshore drift currents can converge.

drainage basin
The area drained by a river and all its tributaries.

drainage density
The number of streams on the surface of a drainage basin.

The mining of sediment from the sea floor.

drip irrigation
A type of micro-irrigation system that has the potential to save water and nutrients by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of plants, either from above the soil surface or buried below the surface.

Hills of sediment that have been streamlined by glacier flow.

dune stabilisation
The planting of vegetation in fenced-off areas of sand dunes to create a natural barrier to erosion.

E (ECHR to extremism)

The European Convention on Human Rights, a convention which protects human rights in Europe.

ecological footprint
Measure of the impact of a person, group, or organisation on natural resources.

economic efficiency
When all goods and factors of production in an economy are distributed or allocated to thjeir most valuable use and waste is eliminated or minimised.

economic migrant
A person who has left their own country to seek employment in another country in order to improve their living conditions.

economic restructuring
The changing importance of different economic sectors.

economic sanctions
Interventions placed on countries as a penalty e.g. trade restrictions and travel bans.

economic scarcity
When people cannot afford potentially available water.

ecosystem resilience
The capacity of an ecosystem to deal with pressures and demands, either by resisting, recovering or adapting to them whilst retaining their ability to deliver ecosystem services and benefits now and into the future.

elite migration
Wealthy or highly-skilled migrants who are welcomed to a country because of the investment and capital that they bring.

El Niño
When trade winds move Pacific Ocean currents east, leading to unusually heavy rain in South America and dry conditions around the Western Pacific.

El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
The climate oscillation of the pacific region happening about once every 8 years.

A government-imposed trade restriction.

emerging power
A country that has the potential to be a superpower in the future.

Group of territories or states controlled by another sovereign country.

employment data
Information about employment rates, hours of work, earnings.

energy consumption
The average amount of energy used per person.

energy mismatch
The difference between where fossil fuels are found and where they are used.

energy mix
The various types of primary energy used in a country.

energy pathway
The flow of energy between the producer and the consumer.

energy security
The degree of reliability of a country’s supply of energy.

Active involvement, participation, or interaction, often used in the context of community engagement or public participation in decision-making processes.

engineering defences
Physical defences designed be constructed to withstand hazards, e.g. tsunami walls.

Situated, occurring, or formed inside a glacier.

enhanced greenhouse effect
Occurring because of the human activities which increase the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere leading to global warming.

Enterprise Zones
Designated areas across England that provide tax breaks and government support.

The process by which surface sediment is incorporated into a fluid flow.

environmental degradation
Reduction in quality and productivity of the atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere and lithosphere.

environmental refugees
People who are forced to leave their homes because of the impact of global warming and climate change.

The point directly above the hypocentre on the ground surface.

The fair and just distribution of resources, opportunities, and outcomes among individuals and groups within a society or geographic area.

Geological process in which materials are worn away and transported by natural forces such as wind or water.

Glacier-transported rock fragment that differs from the local bedrock.

Sinuous (winding) ridge found on the floor of a glacial trough, created by sediment from subglacial rivers.

A person’s identification with a particular cultural, national, or racial group, often characterised by shared customs, language, religion, or heritage.

ethnic mix
The ethnic group make-up of a population.

European Union (EU)
International organisation of 27 European countries with common economic and political policies. 

Variations in relative sea level resulting from changes in the amount of liquid water entering the oceans.

When rivers and lakes become over fertilised leading to algae and bacteria producing anoxic conditions and polluting the water.

To critically assess information.

The act of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.

Holding extreme or fanatical views.

F (failed state to function)

failed state
A country that has lost its ability to govern effectively, including the rule of law.

fair trade
Trading partnership between producers and companies which ensures better prices for farmers’ products, and improves working conditions and sustainability.

fault line
Where plates sliding past each other create a line of fractures which lock together until an earthquake releases the pressure.

feedback loops
Feedback is where an impact can either reinforce the original process (positive) to make the impacts worse or reduces it (negative).

fertility rate
The number of children born to women in a specific population during their childbearing years, usually expressed as births per 1,000 women of childbearing age.

financial deregulation
The removal or relaxation of government regulations and controls in economic activities.

A glacial U-shaped valley that has been flooded as sea levels have risen.

The movement of water between stores within a system.

Erosion or deposition caused by flowing meltwater, from glaciers or ice sheets.

The rate of flow within a system.

Describes industries or businesses that are not tied to a specific location and can easily relocate due to low transportation costs or high flexibility.

An estimate of the probability chance of when and where a hazard may occur.

foreign direct investment (FDI)
The financial capital flow from one country to another.

forest stress
Where trees die and shed leaves due to a deficit of water during a drought.

fossil water
Non-renewable water deep within bedrock laid down in the ice age.

‘fragile state’
A place where the government has failed and no longer fulfils any of the basic functions of modern society.

freedom of speech
The right to express opinions without fear of persecution, censorship or retaliation. 

free trade
Importing and exporting goods, services and intellectual property between countries without barriers such as tariffs, quotas, and subsidies.

freeze–thaw weathering
Occurs when water continually seeps into cracks, freezes and expands, eventually breaking the rock apart.

frontal rainfall
Where colder air meets warmer moisture laden air leading to condensation along band of weather fronts.

frost heave
The upward dislocation of soil and rocks by the freezing and expansion of soil water.

The roles, purposes, or activities that places or spaces serve within a community or society.

G (G20 to ground moraine)

Intergovernmental organisation promoting international cooperation including 19 of the world’s leading global economies plus the European Union and the African Union. 

gated communities
Residential areas enclosed by physical barriers, such as walls or fences, often with restricted access and enhanced security measures.

An individual or organisation that controls access to certain resources, information, or opportunities within a community or society.

Gross domestic product, the amount of wealth a country generates within its borders.

GDP per capita (PPP)
The amount of wealth a country generates within its borders, divided by the population size, which is adjusted so that is can be compared with other countries with different currencies.

The social, cultural, and psychological attributes, roles, and expectations associated with being male or female in a given society.

gender equality
Where both genders have equal access to rights, resources, and opportunities.

Gender Inequality Index (GII)
A composite measure, reflecting inequality in achievements between women and men in three dimensions: reproductive health, empowerment and the labour market.

Geneva Conventions
International humanitarian laws which protect the human rights of people engaged in armed conflict.

The process of urban renewal involving the influx of higher-income residents into a previously low-income neighbourhood, often leading to changes in property values and social dynamics.

Locating the geographical location of an electronic device using GPS.

All the characteristics of land, including lithology and structure.

geopolitical interventions
Action taken by countries, within the borders of others, to address issues such as human rights abuses.

geopolitical stability
Concept of ensuring global and regional peace through the reduction of conflict risk.

Gini coefficient
Measure of economic inequality within a country by examining the spread of income or wealth within its population.

Gini index
An indicators of income inequality within countries.

A computer system for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to positions on Earth’s surface.

glacial outburst flood (GLOF)
A glacial outburst flood is a sudden release of glacial meltwater, which can be catastrophic downstream, and is increasingly likely due to climate change.

glacial period
An interval of time marked by colder temperatures and glacier advances.

glacial trough
A relatively straight, steep-sided, U-shaped valley that results from glacial erosion.

Fallen snow that over many years has been compressed into a large, dense ice mass.

global borrowing rules
Arrangements and regulations related to the loaning of money to different countries.

global citizen 
The idea that a person’s identity goes beyond national borders, or the concept that individuals are connected to the wider global community, influencing change through mindset and actions.

global economic centre of gravity
Average location of economic activity within the world.

global hub city
A highly globally connected city.

global shift
Movement of manufacturing to Asia from North America and Europe.

Process through which people and places across the world become more connected with each other.

government subsidies
Financial assistance offered by a government to encourage investment in an area or industry.

The layering of sediments based on their size.

greenhouse gas
A gas in the atmosphere which absorbs terrestrial radiation.

grey water
Water that has been previously used and may contain some impurities.

ground moraine
Material transported and deposited by a glacier which is deposited at the valley floor.

H (Haff to hypothesis)

Type of submergent concordant coastline with lagoons created by spits that form parallel to the coast.

Salt-tolerant plants.

Happy Planet Index
A development indicator that takes into account wellbeing, life expectancy and ecological footprint.

hard engineering
Approaches to managing the coastline that work against physical processes to prevent erosion, e.g. sea wall; Building solid structures to control rivers.

hard power
Use of military or economic force to gain influence.

hazard management cycle
A simple model outlining four stages of management before and after a natural hazard strikes and used by emergency planners (usually governments).

hazard profile
A method to compare the physical characteristic of earthquake, volcanic eruption or tsunami events.

hazard risk equation
A method to understand risk by analysing hazards, vulnerability and a countries capacity to cope with hazards.

hazard-resistant design
Buildings and infrastructure designed to withstand tectonic hazards.

Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)
Led by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, a programme which ensures the poorest countries are not overwhelmed by unmanageable or unsustainable debt and debt servicing.

Dominance of one group or country over another.

Helsinki Water Convention
Legally binding set of rules which promote sustainable management of shared water resources, implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), conflict prevention and peace promotion.

Cultural and historical assets, traditions, and landmarks that are passed down through generations and contribute to a sense of identity and belonging.

An approach to managing the coastline which takes into account a whole stretch of extended coastline.

holistic development
A combination of economic growth, human rights and democratic institutions.

The current geological epoch, beginning approximately 11,700 years ago.

High level of similar culture, language, and beliefs within a society.

Areas away from a plate boundary where mantle plumes can form volcanic activity.

Human Development Index (HDI)
Composite measure of a country’s level of development based on health, education, and standard of living.

human rights
Rights that everyone should be entitled to regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, sexuality, or any other status.

hydraulic action
The force of water crashing against the coastline causing material to be dislodged and carried away by the sea.

All of the water on or surrounding the Earth, including oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, ice, groundwater in soil or rock, and the water in the atmosphere.

A graphical representation of rainfall and discharge over time.

hydrological cycle
Involves the continuous circulation of water in the Earth-Atmosphere system. 

One globally dominating superpower. 

The point where the plate has slipped during an earthquake.

A statement that can be tested by collecting and analysing data.

I (ice caps to isostatic)

ice caps
A mass of ice that covers less than 50,000 km².

ice sheets
A mass of glacial ice more than 50,000 km².

ice wedge
V-shaped ice-filled features formed by the enlargement of a surface cracks by frost action. In time the cracks will become infilled with sediment.

igneous rock
Rock formed when hot, molten rock cools and solidifies.

Where glacial deposits overlap one another.

Money that is earnt or received from investments.

income inequality
A measure that highlights the gap between different individuals’ or households’ disposable income.

A country which has its own government and is not ruled by another state.

indirect military action
The use of military personnel to help development, reconstruction or training.

The process of a society or region transitioning from an agrarian or primarily rural economy to one dominated by manufacturing and industrial activities.

Unequal access to housing, education, health, and jobs. 

The physical and organisational structures and facilities (e.g., roads, bridges, utilities) necessary for the functioning of a place.

The process whereby individuals or groups of differing ethnic heritage are absorbed into the dominant culture.

Intergovernmental Organisations (IGOs)
Organisations composed of multiple states that cooperate on various issues of common concern, such as the United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU). 

International Court of Justice (ICJ)
United Nations body responsible for settling international disputes.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)
IGO consisting of member countries which supports economic policies that promote financial stability and monetary cooperation. Gives advice, loans and other financial aid to member countries.

The addition of water into an open system.

inter-quartile range
A measure of spread in a collection of data.

integrated coastal zone management (ICZM)
A holistic approach used to manage coasts.

integrated water resource management (IWRM)
Managing rivers in a holistic manner by coordination of different players involved, consideration of the whole drainage basin and natural hydrology and protection of the sustainability of ecosystems whilst maximising economic and social services in an equitable manner.

intellectual property (IP)
Creations of the mind, e.g. inventions, literary and artistic works, designs, symbols, names, and images used in commerce.

intelligence services
Collection and analysis of information to aid military operations, including safety and security.

Where different hazards, e.g. tectonic hazards with hydrometeorological (weather) hazards, combine to increase risks.

People, places, and countries relying on each other.

Relating to the interactions, relationships, or processes that occur between different generations within families or societies.

interglacial period
An interval of time with a warmer climate when glaciers retreat; in between glacial periods.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
UN body responsible for assessing the science related to climate change.

internal deformation
A distortion within a material, such as glacier ice.

internal migration
The movement of people within the boundaries of a single country or region, usually involving a change in residence from one place to another.

international migration
The movement of people across international borders.

An interval of time with a warmer climate. 

Process of being separated from another country or region.

An isostatic change is a change in local land level.

J (jet stream to jökulhlaup)

jet stream
A band of air in the upper atmosphere that may convey a sequence of depressions.

A jökulhlaup is a type of glacial outburst flood often caused by volcanic or geothermal activity under a glacier. See also glacial outburst flood (GLOF)

K (kame to KOF index)

Mound or hillock found on the floor of a glacial trough formed by fluvioglacial deposition.

kettle holes
A large depression left when a mass of ice trapped in glacial deposits melts.

kite diagrams
A graph that shows change over distance.

knock and lochan
A small hill or knoll (knock) is associated with a nearby small lake or pond (lochan).

KOF index
Measures how globalised countries are through economic, social, and political characteristics.

L (La Niña to low-wage migration)

La Niña
When trade winds move Pacific Ocean currents west more strongly than usual, with very heavy rain around the Western Pacific and drought in South America.

lag time
The time between peak rainfall and peak discharge in a river.

Ash falls may combine with rainfall or snowmelt to form deadly mudflows.

When a mass movement of material, such as rock, earth or debris, falls down a slope.

land-use zoning
Areas at highest risk are identified and mapped by planners using technology like GIS.  These ‘red zones’ may have restrictions on type of buildings (e.g. residential) the height of buildings and include evacuation routes.

lateral moraine
A moraine running along the edge of the glacier where it meets the valley side.

lava flow
Streams of lava which may move slowly but continually. Very hot and may start fires.

Mineral drain away from soil, ash, or similar material by the action of percolating liquid, especially rainwater.

legislative frameworks
A particular set of rules, laws, or regulations which control how something is done.

With the authority and approval of the law. 

life-cycle stage
The different phases that individuals go through over their lifetimes, including childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and old age.

line of best fit
A straight line that depicts the trend of the given scattered data plots on a graph.

Where saturated soils can behave like water during shaking, leading to building foundations and infrastructure sinking.

The physical characteristic of a rock.

The crust (solid rock) plates and solid part of upper mantle.

littoral zone
The part of the coast that is affected by the action of the waves.

lived experience
The unique and subjective experiences of individuals or groups, which can be influenced by their background, culture, and personal history. 

local sourcing
Groups or organisation gain products from their local area.

location factor
Reasons why companies choose to situate themselves in certain places.

Fine, mineral rich windblown material.

logarithmic scales
A scale where intervals increase exponentially.

Lorenz curve
A graphical representation of inequality.

Love wave (L wave)
A surface earthquake wave with horizontal displacement.

low-wage migration
Migrants with low wealth who may not be welcomed by destination countries.

M (‘Made in Britain’ to multi-polar)

‘Made in Britain’
Concept of manufacturing then branding products made within the UK.

Along the edges and at the end of the glacier.

mass balance
The gains and losses of ice within the glacier.

mass movement
The downslope movement of material under the force of gravity.

maternal mortality
Deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth.

measures of central tendency
A measure that attempts to identify the midpoint in a data set.

measures of dispersion
Measures of dispersion describe the spread of data around a central value (mean, median or mode).

media representation
How various forms of media, such as television, film, news, and advertising, depict and portray people, events, and issues.

medial moraine
A type of moraine formed where two glaciers meet depositing glacial debris in the centre.

A city with a population of over 10 million.

mega dam
A large scale dam, a barrier holding back water in a reservoir for electricity or as a water supply.

Large scale or large impact events which are often unpredictable and require significant responses.  They have global or regional impacts.

Mercalli scale
Measures the effects through damage caused and what people experience in an earthquake on a I-XII scale.

metamorphic rock
When rock is put under pressure and heated. 

meteorological drought
Defined by shortfalls in precipitation as a result of short-term variability, or longer-term trends, which decrease during the duration of the dry period.

middle-class consumption
Use of resources and products by professional and business individuals.

Movement of people from one location to another on a permanent or semipermanent basis.

Milankovitch cycles
The effects of long-term changes to the Earth’s orbit and position.

Millenium Development Goals (MDGs)
The UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which addressed global development issues between 2000 and 2015.

Millenium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA)
Analysed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being. 

military aid
Providing military equipment and/or training.

military intervention
The use of the military in other countries to address issues such as human rights abuses.

military power
Strength of military capability of a country including weapon, intelligence, and personnel.

MINT country
An acronym that stands for ‘Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, Turkey’; refers to a group of countries with the potential to realize rapid economic growth.

Attempts to reduce the risks to human life and property by directly reducing the impact of natural hazards.

mitigation strategy
Trying to rebalance the carbon cycle and reduce any impacts of climate change.

Modernisation Theory
Rostow’s five stage model of economic development.

moment magnitude scale (MMS)
Measures the magnitude of energy released from an earthquake by combining the size of the waves, amount of fault slipped (moment) with the nature of the fault itself to give the most accurate way to record magnitude.  It is used most by scientists.

Where an entire resource is controlled by one group or company.

A seasonal change in local climate of some areas may lead to a distinct rainy period in a year.

Montreal Protocol
Multilateral environmental agreement regulation the production and consumption of ozone depleting substances (ODS). One of few treaties to achieve universal ratification.

The geological structure, shape, or form of a feature.

mortality rate
The number of deaths in a population within a specific time frame, usually expressed as deaths per 1,000 people per year.

multilateral agreements
Agreement made between multiple countries, e.g. can be to secure energy pathways.

multiple economic use
Reducing risk from individual activities by diversifying the local economy.

multiple deprivation
A concept that considers a combination of factors, such as income, education, health, and living conditions, to measure the overall disadvantage of an area or population.

multiple-hazard zone
Locations which experience more than one hazard which may interact with each other to increase risks.

Global power is distributed between many countries. Each of these countries has less global influence but have a strong regional influence.

N (nationalism to nivation)

Relates to people’s identification and affinity with their own nation.

national character
The shared belief or perceptions of qualities common to members of a nation, either by members of the nation or by other groups of people.

national identity
A person’s sense of belonging or loyalty to a particular country.

national loyalties
The sense of allegiance to a particular group or cultural practice.

national sovereignty
The ability for a nation to set its own parameters not have them imposed by a foreign body.

nation state
Sovereign territory recognised as an independent state.

Military alliance of 31 western countries. 

natural greenhouse effect
A natural process in which greenhouse gases absorb terrestrial radiation and warm the atmosphere.

natural increase
Difference between number of births and deaths in a specific area in a given time (usually one year).

negative feedback
A chain of events that decreases the amount of change by reducing some of the inputs, returning the system to stability.

Indirect influence and control by one country or area over another often by financial processes.

Policies which promote free markets, encourage the role of the private sector and decrease the role of the government.

net primary productivity
The gross primary productivity minus the rate of energy loss to metabolism and maintenance.

net zero
Government commitment to ensure the UK reduces its greenhouse gas emissions by 100% from 1990 levels by 2050.

(Not In My Backyard) Refers to the opposition of local residents to new development projects, often due to concerns about negative impacts on their immediate environment.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
Free trade agreement between USA, Canada, and Mexico.

Process where snow patches initiate erosion through physical weathering, meltwater flow, and gelifluction.

O (objectives to overgrazing)

An aim or a goal.

offshore bar
A narrow ridge of sediment which runs parallel to the coast, formed when backwash removes material from the beach and deposits it in the offshore zone.

offshore breakwaters
A structure in the sea that is parallel to the shore which reduces the power of incoming waves.

A company relocates part of its own operations to its business set up in another country.

open borders
Borders with fewer restrictions on the movement of people, goods, services, money and information.

open system
A system which has inputs and outputs open to externalities.

open-door policy
Government practices that remove restrictions on the flow of immigrants.

orographic rainfall
Where high relief forces air masses upwards to condense.

The loss of water from an open system.

output data
Information that quantifies a region’s or nation’s economic performance, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment figures.

A company hires another company for a particular part of their business, e.g. manufacturing.

Where agriculture causes soil and nutrients to decline in an area.

Where livestock grazing causes vegetation to decline in an area.

P (palaeomagnetism to pyroclastic flow)

Using magnetic mineral alignment as a fossil compass to see evidence of sea floor spreading.

Paris Agreement
A legally binding international treaty on climate change. It was adopted by 196 Parties at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21). 

Park’s model of disaster response
Also known as the hazard-response curve, it can be used to compare different countries abilities to recover from a hazard over time (resilience). Each country has its own curve.

Approaches or initiatives that involve collaboration and coordination between different organisations, stakeholders, or sectors.

Exclusive right granted for an invention.

peak discharge
The point of highest river flow.

The outermost layer of the Earth that is composed of soil.

The way in which someone understands or interprets something.

A landscape that undergoes seasonal freezing and thawing, typically on the fringes of past and present glaciated regions.

Geomorphic processes that result from seasonal thawing and freezing, very often in areas of permafrost.

Ground that is frozen throughout the year.

Allowing infiltration.

The ability of rock or soils to allow water to pass through.

The process by which plants use sunlight to synthesize nutrients form carbon dioxide and water.

physical scarcity
Where water supply does not meet the demand.

Domed hills with an ice core.

plate boundaries
The edge of tectonic plates where various processes can causes tectonic hazards.

The most recent period of ice activity, which started 2.6 million years ago and ended almost 12,000 years ago.

polar glacier
A glacier which remains below freezing temperature throughout the year.

political corruption
When money is diverted away from ensuring basic needs of the population by the government.

political sphere of influence
An area over which a country or organisation has a level of power.

population density
The number of individuals living per unit of area or space, usually measured as people per square kilometre.

population structure
The composition of a population in terms of age, gender, and sometimes other demographic factors, often represented in age-sex pyramids.

The amount of empty space within a material.

positive feedback
A chain of events that act to accelerate and amplify any changes that have already started to occur.

Relating to the legacy of colonialism and imperialism.

potable water
Water which is clean and drinkable.

Attempts to forecast and judge when and where a hazard may occur.

An accurate forecast of when and where a hazard occurs.

The degree to which a country or community is ready for a potential hazard.

Pressure and Release (PAR) model
A model suggesting a progression of vulnerability factors where root causes lead to dynamic pressures which lead to unsafe conditions and combine with a hazard to make a disaster.

primary data
Data that is collected first hand.

primary energy
Energy which is harvested form natural resources such as oil or wind.

primary wave
Primary waves of energy from an earthquake.  They are the fastest and reach a location first, although are less damaging with a compressional back-and-forth motion.

Assets owned in the public sector (by the government) are transferred to the private sector (businesses).

A company run for profit and owned by shareholders or an individual.

Situated in front of a glacier.

proglacial lakes
Lakes that form in front of glaciers, often dammed by moraines. They can grow and retreat, which influences the development of fluvioglacial landforms and can lead to glacial outburst floods.

Support for the process and impacts of globalisation.

The act of keeping something from harm.

pull factors
A factor that attracts people to move to a particular location.

push factors
A factor that makes people want to move away from a particular location.

pyramidal peak
Three-sided, pointed mountain peaks where three or more cirques meet.

pyroclastic flow
A combination of lava, ash, and gas which explodes from a volcano and travels at speed (100mph). They are usually only found at acidic lava eruptions.

Q (qualitative to quantitative data)

Data that can only be organised into descriptive categories that are not numerical; such data may include oral sources such as interviews, reminiscences and songs, and visual media include artistic representations.

quality of life indices
Measures that assess the overall well-being and satisfaction of individuals or communities based on various indicators, including health, education, and income.

quantitative data
Data represented in numerical form, which can be analysed statistically.

R (radical technologies to rural–urban migration)

radical technologies
A new-to-the-world technology that brings about revolutionary changes. For example, hydrogen fuel cells, electric vehicles.

rare earth minerals
Group of naturally occurring metallic elements used in the making of products, e.g. electronics.

Where rivers are straightened from the original meandering course.

Strategic efforts to reshape and improve the image and perception of a place, often aiming to attract investment, tourism, and positive attention. This usually includes physical change as well as reimaging.

The retreat of a coastline.

recessional moraine
A secondary terminal moraine deposited during a temporary glacial standstill.

The replenishment of water into the soil.

recurved spit
A narrow ridge of material extending into the sea, with a curved end which is formed by a change in wind direction.

recyclable energy
Waste can be reprocessed and reused, e.g. nuclear energy.

Conversion of used or waste products into reusable ones.

In general terms, people who have been force to move from their home area due to conflict, violence, persecution, or disasters.

regelation creep
Melting and freezing of ice, caused by changes in pressure, which affects slippage.

The process of transforming areas which may have declined to improve their economy and improve the overall quality of life for its inhabitants.

The annual variation of discharge of a river.

regional power
A country that has significant influence within a specific geographical region.

The process of redefining and envisioning the identity and future of a place, often involving a transformation of purpose and character.

relative poverty
The level of poverty that changes based on context – it is relative to the economic climate.

How trustworthiness a source of information is.

renewable energy
Primary energy that can be re-used to produce electricity or has a short lifetime, therefore any used can be replaced quickly, e.g. wind and solar power.

research question
A specific type of question that aims to investigate a research topic and eventually draw a conclusion.

residence time
The average length of time water is in a store.

The ability to cope with a hazard and return to normal afterwards.

Agreements or statements of the UN and its bodies.

Involves plants using the sugars produced during photosynthesis plus oxygen to produce energy for plant growth. CO2 is released to the atmosphere during respiration.

Altering lakes and rivers to a more natural condition, e.g. restoring meanders.

retirement village
Residential communities designed specifically for elderly individuals or retirees.

A progressive approach to conservation in which nature is allowed to take care of itself.

A fluvial V-shaped valley that has been flooded as sea levels have risen.

ribbon lake
A long, narrow lake found in glacial valleys.

Richter scale
Measures magnitude through the height of seismic waves (amplitude).  A logarithmic scale increasing by a factor of ten at each 0-9 step.

river regime
The annual variation in the discharge or flow of a river at a particular point.

roche moutonnée
Rock formation created by the passing of a glacier over underlying bedrock, resulting in asymmetrical erosional forms.

rotational scar
The scar left behind due to rotational slump.

rotational slump
Where soil or rock debris moves downhill along a concave or curved plane in a rotational manner.

ruralurban continuum
A concept describing the gradual transition from rural to urban characteristics along a transect from the centre of a city to the countryside.

ruralurban migration
Migration from the countryside to towns and cities.

S (salinity to switched off country)

A measurement of the amount of salt in sea water.

salt water encroachment
When sea water is drawn into aquifers usually as a result of over abstraction.

A specific group that data is collected from.

Also known as an outwash plain; a plain formed of glacial sediments deposited by meltwater outwash at the terminus of a glacier.

Public health and the provision of clean water as well as sewage disposal.

When the soil or rock is already full of water and cannot accept any more.

scatter graphs
A graph used to show the relationship between two variables within a dataset.

Schengen Agreement
Convention leading to the removal of internal border checks and controls between the majority of EU member states and four non-EU countries.

sea floor spreading
Where plates diverge as mantle rises and cools to form new oceanic crust and creates mid ocean ridges between two oceanic plates.

The changing phases of dominant plant species occupying a particular climatic habitat or ecosystem.

secondary data
Data that is collected by someone other than the primary user.

secondary wave (S wave)
Secondary waves of energy from an earthquake. Slower than P waves and more damaging with a transverse side-to-side motion from the hypocentre.

sediment cell
A stretch of coastline which has sediment inputs, outputs and transfers of sediment within it.

sedimentary rock
Rocks formed from small particles of sand and rock, which have been transported by the wind, rivers, and ice and are usually deposited on lake or seadbed.

seismic waves
Waves of energy sent out from the hypocentre of an earthquake.

A machine used to measure the shaking of the ground during the period of an earthquake.

The spatial separation of different ethnic or racial groups within a city or region, often resulting in distinct neighbourhoods or areas associated with specific ethnic communities.

A process by which carbon is transferred from the atmosphere and stored as a liquid or solid.

shoreline management plan (SMP)
A strategy for managing flood and erosion risk for a particular stretch of coastline, over short, medium and long-term periods.

shrinking world
Idea that physical distances stay the same but travel time for goods, people, and information have rapidly decreased over time.

skills gap
A labour market failure in which not enough labour possesses the skills demanded by employers.

slab-pull ridge-push
Where density and gravity pull of the subducting plate pulls the rest of the it downwards along with the mid ocean ridge pushing the plate.

social clustering
The tendency for individuals or groups with similar characteristics, such as ethnicity or socioeconomic status, to live in close proximity to one another within a community.

social exclusion
The process by which individuals or groups are systematically disadvantaged and marginalised in society, often resulting from factors like poverty, discrimination, and limited access to resources and opportunities.

social housing
Affordable housing provided by the government or nonprofit organisations to support individuals and families with limited financial means.

social progress
Positive advancements and improvements in societal well-being, encompassing factors such as education, healthcare, and overall quality of life.

soft engineering
Approaches to managing the coastline that work with physical processes to limit erosion e.g. beach nourishment.

soft power
Use of non forceful means to persuade others to follow its ideology, policies, and culture.

soil erosion
The removal of the top layer of the soil due to external physical forces.

solar energy
Heat energy from the sun which has a short wavelength.

The progressive movement of a mass down a slope caused by freeze-thaw activity.

source area
Place a migrant moves away from.

A country’s right to authority over their own territory without interference.

sovereign territories
A country with has a defined territory and population recognised under international law.

Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient
A statistical technique used to analyse relationships. It tests the strength of correlation and gives a final number which is checked for the confidence of correlation.

spatial variation of values
The variation in density of dots on a dot map which show spatial patters.

Special Economic Zone (SEZ)
Designated area in a country that has more liberal trade policies than other areas in the country, leading to more investment and production.

spiral of decline
The self-reinforcing cycle of negative factors, such as economic decline and social issues, that can lead to further deterioration in a place.

An interval of time with a colder climate.

Individuals, groups, or organisations that have a vested interest or concern in a particular situation, project, or decision.

standard deviation
A statistic that shows the reliability of the mean in data.

staple grains
Wheat, rice, or other cereal crop that forms a key part of a person’s diet.

The use of data to gather, review, analyse and draw conclusions.

The accumulation of water within a system for an amount of time.

Layers of rock.

The way in which different groups of people are placed within society.

Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP)
Economic policies promoted by the WB and IMF where developing countries receive loans and financial assistance in return for changes in the structure of their economy.

Where plates converge and oceanic crust descends under continental crust and into the asthenosphere as it is denser.

Below or the base of an ice sheet or glacier.

The change from the solid state to gas with no intermediate liquid stage.

A country which has significant global strength.

On top of a glacier.

Where inputs into the system are greater than output meaning water is gained.

Practices and development that can be maintained over the long term without depleting resources or causing irreversible environmental harm.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which address global development issues. 

sustainable management
An approach to managing resources that balances economic, social, and environmental factors to ensure long-term sustainability.

sustainable schemes
Water management schemes which aim to ensure resources are protected for future generations by conserving supplies and reducing demands as well as working more with natural processes.

switched off country
Country that has limited connections with other countries or global systems.

T (taiga biome to tundra)

taiga biome
A large scale ecosystem made up of coniferous forest and found in cold, subarctic regions, just south of the Arctic Circle.

talus scree slope
A mass of small loose stones that form or cover a slope on a mountain due to weathering.

tax haven
Territory or country that offers no or low taxation rates compared to other countries.

A solution to problems using technology.

temperate glacier
Also known as warm-based glaciers. Found in lower latitudes, the temperature around the glacier allows the ice to move more rapidly.

Large pieces of rock (tephra) thrown high into the atmosphere that fall back to Earth to deeply cover the land.

terraced cliff profile
Where a cliff profile is stepped due to lithology or fractures in the rock.

terrestrial ecosystem
A land-based community of organisms and the interactions of biotic and abiotic components in a given area.

terminal moraine
Material deposited at the end of a glacier.

the English countryside
The concept of the English countryside as a green and peaceful place as well as refuge from the stresses of urban life.

thermohaline circulation
The movement of ocean currents due to variations in temperature, salinity and density of the sea.

A statistical test used to compare the means of two groups.

Unsorted material such as rocks or sand which is deposited directly by glacial ice and showing no stratification.

timespace compression
People, places, and countries seem closer together because of developments in transport and communications.

tipping point
Where a threshold is crossed leading to irreversible change and the system will reach a new stable but changed state.

trade embargoes
A restriction imposed on the trading of certain products, goods or services.

trade protectionism
A government imposed tariff or quota on imported goods to protect a country’s own industry from fluctuations in value of goods on the global market.

A transect is used to investigate a gradual change. A kite diagram shows the data along a transect.

Transnational Corporations (TNC)
Large corporations that operate in multiple countries and have a significant global presence.

A spit which has joined an island to the mainland.

top-down aid
Aid which is given to the government of a country.

trade bloc
A group of countries agree to reduce or remove trade barriers between them. 

trade pattern
Type, volume, and value of imports and exports between countries.

The process of modifying surfaces and sub-surfaces as a consequence of repeated human and animal movement.

A conflict between countries if a drainage basin crosses international borders.

transition town
A movement to promote local sourcing.

A system or means of conveying people or goods from place to place.

Agreements made between the different users of a drainage basin to share water.

truncated spur / hanging valley
A blunt-ended, sloping ridge which descends the flank of a valley, normally due to erosion by a glacier.

Waves generated by sub-marine earthquakes at subduction zones.

A biome with temperatures below freezing for most of the year, often with low precipitation.

U (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) to utilised)

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
The first document to outline what human rights should be.

UN peacekeeping mission
UN role of creating conditions for lasting peace in conflict areas.

UN Security Council
UN body responsible for maintaining international peace and security.

UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)
Set of rules relating to the world’s oceans and seas, covering territorial limits, resources and protection of the marine environment.

unconventional fossil fuels
Includes tar sands, deep water drilling, shale gas and oil.  They are more costly to extract due to inaccessibility and advanced technology required.

One country (superpower, hyperpower, hegemon) has global dominance of power and has no competitor states.

United Nations
Intergovernmental organisation which provides a forum for and a basis for action on common global issues for the benefit of humanity and the planet.

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)
A UN declaration that establishes a universal framework of minimum standards for the survival, dignity and well-being of the Indigenous Peoples of the world.

The process of an increasing proportion of people living in urban areas (commonly connected to urban expansion).

United States Mexico Canada Agreement.

When all of the store of water in the soil has been used up.

V (veto power to volcano)

veto power
An overriding vote to stop an action.

The transformation of a substance into a glass-like state.

Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI)
A method to record the magnitude and explosivity of an eruption by analysing the height of the ash plume, the amount of tephra ejected and the duration of the eruption.

volcanic outgassing
The release of gas from the earth’s crust by a volcanic eruption.

A point in the Earth’s crust where magma extrudes as lava.

W (war on terror to World Trade Organization (WTO))

war on terror
International, US-led military campaign launched after the 11th September attacks in 2001.

water budget
The annual balance of water between inputs and outputs.

water budget graph
The measurement of the change in the balance of inputs and outputs on soil moisture over a year.

water gap
The difference between those who have reliable access to fresh water and those who don’t.

water insecurity
When areas experience a lack of fresh water due to demand exceeding supply.

water poverty
When people cannot afford clean water because of the cost.

water poverty index (WPI)
An index used to measure the degree to which countries are successfully utilising their water supply.

water scarcity
When continuous water shortages and deficit causes major impacts on the environment, economy and quality of life.

water stress
When people do not have accesses to water for domestic use for a period of time, as demand exceeds supply by 10% or above.

water transfers
The diversion of water from an area of surplus to deficit, sometimes across huge distances using a series of canals/canalised rivers, pumps and pipelines.

waterborne diseases
Disease which are spread through water, commonly in developing countries.

welfare states
Where the government prioritises spending to improve the economic and social wellbeing of citizens, for example through maternity benefits, pensions, and health services.

When societies take up practices and culture of western Europe and North America.

‘wind of change’
Phrased used by UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan to acknowledge the growing movement of independence within Africa after World War II.

World Bank
Intergovernmental organisation funding loans and grants to promote poverty reduction and sustainable development. Funded by member country contributions and by issuing bonds.

World Economic Forum (WEF)
Intergovernmental organisation for public and private cooperation by leading organisations and experts to address current global issues.

World Systems Theory
Wallerstein’s model including emerging economies to the hierarchy within the global economic system (core – semi periphery – periphery).

World Trade Organization (WTO)
Intergovernmental organisation dealing with global rules of trade and trade disputes.

X (xerophytes)

Any plant adapted to life in a dry habitat.