Terra Environment Dictionary — S

Terra Environment Dictionary is a resource of words, terms and phrases related to environmentalism, as defined by society.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #


A common name for freshwater fish of the family Salmonidae, native to tributaries of the North Atlantic (genus Salmo) and Pacific (genus Oncorhynchus) Oceans. Salmon is usually farmed or caught in the wild for human consumption, both of which are detrimental to the environment.
Salmon farming breeds sea lice infestations in the pens, which are parasites that essentially eats the fish alive. Along with the waste from the pens that are released into the open waters, the marine environment around the salmon farms are substantially damaged. This also threatens wild salmon that pass by the farms on their migrations, also known as salmon runs.
Salmon, in the wild, come into contact with over 100 species on their journey between the rivers and the seas and provide such an important food source that they have been identified as a “keystone species”, a species without which would change the ecosystem drastically. Salmon is also responsible for bringing nutrients from the ocean back into rivers upstream, nourishing the surrounding forests. However, wild salmon is threatened by overfishing.

sea level

The average level of the surface of the sea. Today, global sea level has risen by about 24 millimetres above the 1993 average, and is rising at 3.2 millimetres per year.
The rise in sea level is attributed to global warming in two ways: thermal expansion of the oceans (42 percent), and glacial melting (44 percent). A third, much smaller contributor is a decline in the amount of liquid water on land, as water is shifted from land to ocean through groundwater pumping. A rise in sea level causes flooding, shoreline erosion, higher occurrences of storms that are also stronger (resulting in typhoons and hurricanes), and threats to low-lying, coastal ecosystems including both natural and urban ones, resulting in population displacement. Globally, eight of the world’s 10 largest cities are situated near a coast.

sea ice

Frozen water that floats on the ocean’s surface, mostly in the Arctic and Antarctica. Despite existing primarily in the polar regions, it affects the global climate. The bright, white surface of sea ice reflects a large amount of the sun’s rays into the atmosphere, contrary to the darker ocean surface that absorbs the sun’s heat in the absence of sea ice. This creates a feedback loop, as the warmer ocean melt the sea ice. Sea ice also contributes to the circulation of the global ocean conveyor belt, causing changes that affect the marine conditions in oceans all around the world.


1. Decapod crustaceans, mostly commonly referring to species of the infraorder Caridea (shrimp) and the suborder Dendrobranchiata (prawn). Shrimp is usually farmed or caught in the wild for human consumption, both of which are detrimental to the environment.
Shrimp farms have caused the destruction of 38 percent of the world’s mangroves, which do not recover for decades even after production has ended. Wild shrimp, on the other hand, is often caught by deep-sea trawling, accounting for one-third of the world’s bycatch.
2. A diminutive or insignificant person.

species barrier

In the context of transmission of zoonotic diseases, it refers to the natural mechanisms that prevent the spread of a virus or disease from one species to another.


The discrimination of one species over another, most prominently regarding humans above all other animals, but also certain animal species above others.
To illustrate, some animals are deemed as pets (dogs, cats) and assigned certain protections, some  are deemed as food (cows, pigs, chickens) reared purely for consumption, while some are deemed as pests or nuisance (rats, spiders) that most people don’t think twice to kill.
Similarly, even when removed from their immediate relations to humans, wildlife species are regarded differently: just think about which animals are more popular in zoos and treated better, and also protected by wildlife conservationists more fervently, regardless of their conservation status.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #