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Glossary

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atmospheric pressure
The weight exerted by the atomosphere. Also called air pressure or barometric pressure. Atmospheric pressure drops as altitude increases.

barometer
An instrument used to measure air pressure.

cirrus
A type of cloud that forms at high altitudes that looks streaky and can be described as 'mares tails'. In Latin cirrus means hair.

civil defence
Steps taken by organised community groups for the protection of life and property in the event of a natural disaster.

climate
Long term weather patterns.

cumulus
A type of tall, white cloud with a wide, flat base and rounded shape. In Latin cumulus means heap.

earthquake
A sudden movement of the Earth's crust caused by the release of stress accumulated along geologic faults or by volcanic activity.

emergency
A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.

emergency plan
The steps to take to reduce risk to yourself, your family and your property in the event of a natural disaster.

emergency services
The public organizations that respond to and deal with emergencies when they occur, especially the ambulance service, the police, and the fire brigade.

emergency supplies
A package of basic tools and supplies prepared in advance as an aid to survival in an emergency.

fault
A break in rock across which there is observable movement.

flood
A flood is an overflow of water that submerges land which is usually dry.

front
The boundary between two different air masses marking a change in weather and or wind direction.

gale
Gale force winds are winds that reach a speed of 62 kilometres per hour for at least 10 minutes.

infrastructure
The basic physical and organizational structures and facilities (e.g. buildings, roads, power supplies) needed for the operation of a society.

landslide
Movement of soil, rock and debris down a slope.

magnitude
A measure of the energy released by an earthquake at its source. Magnitude is commonly determined from the shaking recorded on a seismograph. Each unit of magnitude on the scale represents a substantial increase in energy, for example a magnitude 6 releases 30 times more energy than a magnitude 5.

NEMA
National Emergency Management Agency. Provides leadership in reducing risk, being ready for, responding to and recovering from emergencies.

storm
A disturbance of the atmosphere that can cause strong winds, rain, thunder, lightning, heavy snow and rough seas.

storm surge
A rising of the sea as a result of wind and atmospheric pressure changes associated with a storm.

stratus
A type of cloud that forms at low altitudes over large areas often bringing rain or snow. In Latin stratus means layer.

tectonic plates
Blocks of the Earth's continental and oceanic crust that move, float, and sometimes fracture. Their interaction causes continental drift, earthquakes, volcanoes, mountains, and oceanic trenches.

tsunami
A series of powerful ocean surges caused by a large volume of the ocean floor being displaced – often by an undersea earthquake or landslide.

volcano
A volcano is a vent at the Earth's surface through which magma and volcanic gases erupt. 

weather
The state of the atmosphere at a particular place and time in regards to heat, cloudiness, dryness, sunshine, wind, rain, etc.

weather bomb
When a low pressure system intensifies with air pressure dropping rapidly - with a drop of 24hPa or more in 24 hours.