A - E
F - N
O - Z

Glossary, A - E

100-year coastal flood hazard area: the Federal Emergency Management Agency's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) delineates areas subject to a one-percent annual chance (or 100-year) for flooding. These areas are delineated as "Special Flood Hazard Areas" (SFHAs). FEMA categorizes riverine and some coastal SFHAs as A or AE Zones." In riverine areas A Zones are determined using hydrologic and hydraulic numerical models. In coastal areas, A Zones are determined using coastal storm surge models, or tide gage analyses based on long-term tide gage records. Another type of SFHA, found exclusively in coastal areas, is called the V or VE Zone. V Zones are determined using the same coastal storm surge analyses to define Coastal A Zones, with the exception that the landward boundary of the V Zone is generally determined by the inland limit of significant wave action, high velocity waters, or the inland toe of the primary frontal dune. NFIP floodplain management regulations are enforced in SFHAs, and mandatory purchase of flood insurance is required for federally-backed mortgages for buildings located in SFHAs.

Adult fish: term used for the total weight of a fish stock old enough to spawn. The technical term is spawning stock biomass.

Anadromous fish: fish that live in the ocean, but breed in fresh water

Anoxia: occurs when dissolved oxygen concentration in the water is zero, a level where most organisms cannot survive

Aquifer: underground bed or layer yielding ground water for wells and springs

Ballast water: water carried in special tanks (ballast tanks) of ships used to provide stability needed when carrying less than a full load of cargo and to keep the ship at the proper depth in the water. When the ship is loaded with cargo, the ballast water is released to surrounding waters; when the ship is empty, it takes on more water to keep it upright. Some vessels use sand as ballast instead of water.

Ballast: weight added to a vessel to lower its center of gravity and increase the draft. Ballast can be taken on in the form of water, rocks, or sand.

Beach action: when monitoring results at swimming beaches indicate that levels of certain bacteria in the water exceed standards, states and territories may notify the public by issuing a beach advisory to warn people of possible risks of swimming or they may close a beach to public swimming.

Beach advisory (or "posting" as defined in California): a recommendation to the public to avoid swimming in water that has exceeded applicable water quality standards to reduce the potential of contracting a swimming related illness. An advisory does not officially close a beach to the public.

Beach closing: typically means that the beach area is officially closed to the public

Beach days: the number of days all beaches are open (based on the length of the local beach season) are added up and multiplied by the number of beaches

Benthic: bottom dwelling; living on or under the sediments or other substrate

Biological indicator: an organism, species, or community whose characteristics show the presence of specific environmental conditions

Bloom: a sudden increase in the abundance of algae or phytoplankton resulting in a contiguous mass of highly concentrated phytoplankton algae in the water column

Bryozoans: small, aquatic animals of the phylum Bryozoa that reproduce by budding and form moss-like or branching colonies permanently attached to stones or seaweed

Bycatch: is a term used to refer to the unintentional capture of non-target species of fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, and seabirds related to fishing activities

Catch: the number, size and types of fish that are caught

Chlorophyll: the green pigment found in photosynthetic organisms, like plants and algae, that enables them to absorb light energy to use for growth and reproduction

Climate change: (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I definition) a statistically significant variation in the mean state of the climate or its variability, persisting for an extended period (typically decades or longer). Climate change, as defined here, may be caused by natural internal processes or external forcings, or by persistent anthropogenic changes in the composition of the atmosphere or land use.

Coastal floodplain: the area in coastal shoreline counties where the NFIP's floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies. This is also known as the the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). The SFHA includes Zones A, AO, AH, A1-30, AE, A99, AR, AR/A1-30, AR/AE, AR/AO, AR/AH, AR/A, VO, V1-30, VE, and V.

Coastal Shoreline County: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has derived 452 Coastal Shoreline Counties. FEMA's 100-year flood plain, or Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), delineates where the National Flood Insurance Program's floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies. The Coastal Shoreline Counties are counties that have a coastline bordering the open ocean, or contain FEMA identified coastal high hazard areas in the SFHA. American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico are included in this suite. For more detailed information about Coastal Shoreline Counties visit:

Coastal Watershed County: NOAA has derived 769 Coastal Watershed Counties. A county is considered a Coastal Watershed County if one of the following criteria is met: (1) at a minimum, 15 percent of the county's total land area is located within a coastal watershed; or (2) a portion of a county, or an entire county, accounts for at least 15 percent of a coastal USGS 8-digit cataloging unit. This "15-percent rule" intends to identify counties that have a substantial watershed-based impact on coastal and ocean resources. In addition, the five U.S. Territories—American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico—are included in their entirety. For more detailed information about the Coastal Watershed Counties visit:

Community: an association of living organisms that have mutual relationships among themselves and with their environment

Competition (or Compete): any interaction that is mutually detrimental or harmful to both participants, occurring between species that share limited resources, such as food or space. A competitor is a species that may compete with another species for resources.

Contaminant: an undesirable substance not normally present, or an usually high concentration of a naturally occurring substance in the environment; a substance in water that might adversely affect the health and welfare of the living organisms in that area (see pollutant)

Critically endangered: organisms with an extremely high risk of becoming extinct in the wild

Crude oil: a naturally occurring, unrefined, flammable mineral liquid consisting of a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and other organic compounds which accumulates in reservoirs beneath the Earth's surface and is used as a source of energy (i.e. petroleum in its natural state prior to refining processes).

Dead Zone:a more common term for hypoxia, which refers to a reduced level of oxygen in the water

Direct effect: the amount of change in purchase of inputs used to manufacture or produce the final goods and services purchased by visitors

Dispersal (or Disperse): the spread of a species, population, or individual's offspring over time

Dissolved oxygen (DO): oxygen present in a water body that is freely available for fish and other aquatic organisms to use

Distribution: where organisms live in an area; the geographical area (i.e., range) within which a species or other group of organisms occurs

Dredging: underwater excavation activity or operation with the purpose of gathering up bottom sediments and disposing them at a different location. Sediment that has been dredged from the waterway is called dredged material.

Echinoderms: radially symmetrical marine invertebrates of the phylum Echinodermata (which includes starfish, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers) having an internal calcareous skeleton and often covered with spines

Ecology: the study of the relationships among organisms and between organisms and their physical environment

Ecosystem: a community of living organisms and their interrelated physical and chemical environment

Ecosystem services: the fundamental life-support processes necessary for life, including human, to thrive. Includes those benefits humans receive from coastal ecosystems in the form of food (fish and shellfish), storm protection, climate regulation, wind and wave renewable energy, recreation, and aesthetic and spiritual inspiration. These include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services, such as nutrient cycling, that maintain the conditions for life on Earth.

Ecosystem service valuation methods: widely used techniques to determine the impact of human activities on an environmental system by assigning an economic value to an ecosystem or its ecosystem services

Effort:how many people are fishing during a given period and how often

Endangered Species Act - listed salmon and other fish: including Puget Sound chinook, summer chum, steelhead and bull trout

Energy conversion devises: devises that change energy from one form to another. For instances, waves produce kinetic energy, wave energy devices capture kinetic energy and convert it to electricity.

Entrainment: Smaller aquatic life fit through the filters and are drawn into cooling water systems and affected by heat, chemicals or physical stress

Estuary: a coastal ecosystem that is partially enclosed, receives freshwater input from rivers or streams, is the transition zone between fresh and saline waters, and is subject to both marine influences such as tides and riverine influences such as sediment input

Eutrophication: process by which a body of water becomes enriched with nutrients (particularly phosphorus and nitrogen) that stimulate the growth of algae. Excessive nutrient enrichment may result in hypoxia, algal blooms, fish kills, and seagrass decline.

Glossary, F - N

Fish biomass: the total weight of the living organisms concerned, whether in a system or a stock.

Global sea level: mean height of the Earth's oceans and seas

Habitat: the surroundings in which individuals of a particular species usually live

Herbivorous: plant eating organisms

Hydrokinetic: kinetic energy of moving fluids (i.e. kinetic energy is motion). Hydrokinetic renewable energy includes wave, tidal, and current.

Hypoxia: occurs when dissolved oxygen concentration in water drops very low, typically below 2 milligrams per liter; a level where most organisms become very stressed or cannot survive

Ice sheet: a mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than 50,000 square kilometers

Impingement: Fishes and other large organisms can be killed, injured, or weakened if they get trapped or pinned by the filters or screens or other parts of a cooling water intake structure

Income: total payments received by individuals for employment

Index: a number scale used to standardize measurements so they can be more easily compared across locations and time

Introduced species: any species, including its seeds, eggs, spores, or other biological material capable of propagating that species that is not native to that ecosystem. A species that has been transported by human activities, either intentionally or accidentally, into a region where it did not occur previously. Also called: non-native species, non-indigenous species, exotic species, or alien species.

Inundation: the rising of a body of water that overflows onto normally dry land

Invasive species: a species that has been transported by natural processes or human activities, either intentionally or accidentally, into a region where it did not occur previously, and reproduces and spreads rapidly into new locations, causing impacts to the economy, environment, or human health.

Jobs: full-time and part-time employment

Lipid: Any of a group of fats or fat-like compounds insoluble in water and soluble in fat solvents

Local sea level: height of the sea with respect to a land benchmark

Macroalgae: large multi-cellular algae, commonly referred to as seaweed, that is large enough to be seen without the aid of a microscope

Market value: the amount for which something can be sold on a given market

Marine protected area: any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein

Molluscan shellfish: edible species of oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops

Native species (or Indigenous species): a species that occurs naturally in a given region or ecosystem

Natural gas marketed production: includes all quantities of natural gas used in field and processing plant operations (i.e. gross volume withdrawals of natural gas withdrawn from reservoirs less gas used for repressuring, quantities vented and flared, and nonhydrocarbon gases removed in treating or processing operations)

Net electricity: the sum of purchased electricity, transfers in, and generation from noncombustible renewable resources minus the quantities of electricity sold and transferred offsite. Thus net electricity excludes the quantities of electricity generated or cogenerated onsite from combustible energy sources.

Nitrogen load: the sum of all nitrogen entering a body of water

Nonmarket value: the estimate of goods and services that are not commonly bought and sold in markets. Whereas sales prices give very clear signals of the monetary value for goods and services that are routinely bought and sold, environmental project alternatives often must be converted and compared in monetary terms.

Nonpoint source pollution: a pollution source without a single point of origin such as urban or agricultural runoff

Nonrenewable: An energy source that we are using up and cannot recreate (i.e. fossil fuels including oil, natural gas, and coal). Nonrenewable energy sources can be used to produce secondary energy sources including electricity and hydrogen.

Glossary, O - Z

Offshore leasing: a commercial arrangement where the lessee (customer or borrower) will select/purchase an area offshore from the state or federal government to extract natural resources

Offshore renewable energy: tidal energy, tidal power, wave energy and wave power are terms used interchangeably to describe the methods of creating energy from the movement of water due to the ocean tides, ocean waves, and ocean currents.

Once‐through cooling water systems : water that is withdrawn from a source, circulated through the heat exchangers, and then returned to a water body at a higher temperature

Overfished: when the size of a fish stock is smaller than the sustainable target set by the National Marine Fisheries Service

Overfishing: excessive fishing that exhausts the supply of fish or shellfish in a body of water

Ppb: parts per billion

Person-day of beach use: one person visiting a beach for one day, during any part of that day is counted as a whole day

Phytoplankton: microscopic, free floating, single-celled, photosynthetic algae that obtain their energy from the sun (photosynthetic)

Point source pollution: a pollutant discharge originating from an easily identifiable location such as an effluent from the end of a pipe

Pollutant: a contaminant that adversely alters the physical, chemical, or biological properties of the environment. Examples of pollutants are dredged spoil, solid waste, incinerator residue, filter backwash, sewage sludge, munitions, chemical wastes, biological materials, radioactive materials, heat, wrecked or discarded equipment, rock, sand, cellar dirt, and industrial, municipal, and agricultural waste discharged into water.

Real-time data: information that is delivered immediately after collection. There is no delay in the timeliness of the information provided. Real-time data is often used for navigation or tracking.

Refining capacity: a complex series of processes that manufactures finished petroleum products out of crude oil and other hydrocarbons

Renewable: An energy source that can be easily replenished (i.e. solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower). Renewable energy sources can be used to produce secondary energy sources including electricity and hydrogen.

Resilience: coastal resilience means building the ability of a community to "bounce back" after hazardous events such as hurricanes, coastal storms, and flooding, rather than simply reacting to impacts

Sales/output: the end product of transforming inputs into goods as measured in sales

Saltwater intrusion: the movement of ocean water into fresh groundwater, causing contamination of the groundwater by salt

Sea ice: frozen sea water (as opposed to icebergs, which are compacted snow)

Sea level rise: an increase in the mean level of the ocean

Sea trial: the testing phase of a watercraft that usually takes place at the end of construction and on open water, and can last from a few hours to many days

Seagrass: grass-like flowering plants, that are adapted to live at sea, submersed and rooted to the bottom, and can tolerate a saline or saltwater environment

Sessile: permanently attached or fixed

Sole-source aquifer system: EPA defines a sole or principal source aquifer as an aquifer that supplies at least 50 percent of the drinking water consumed in the area overlying the aquifer. These areas may have no alternative drinking water source(s) that could physically, legally and economically supply all those who depend on the aquifer for drinking water. For convenience, all designated sole or principal source aquifers are referred to as "sole source aquifers" (SSAs)

Special Flood Hazard Area: the area where the NFIP's floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies. The SFHA includes Zones A, AO, AH, A1-30, AE, A99, AR, AR/A1-30, AR/AE, AR/AO, AR/AH, AR/A, VO, V1-30, VE, and V.

Species of concern: a species or vertebrate population that NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service has concern or great uncertainty about its status. "Species of Concern" are not listed under or protected by the Endangered Species Act

Species: a group of individuals or populations that are similar and are able to mate and have offspring

Steam electric power plants: also known as thermal power stations, includes coal, nuclear, geothermal, solar thermal electric, waste incineration plants, and natural gas power plants

Storm surge: the onshore rush of sea or lake water caused by high wind and low pressure centers associated with a landfalling hurricane or other intense storm

Subsidence: the motion of the Earth's surface as it shifts downward relative to a datum such as sea level

Thermoelectric power: electrical power generated from a heat source, such as burning fossil fuel-coal, oils, indirectly through devices like steam turbines

Total effect: the sum of direct, indirect and induced effects. Indirect effect is the value of inputs used by firms that produce the goods and services for those firms first impacted by the closure or change in water quality. Induced effects are the resultant effects of the direct and indirect effects. Induced effects are related to persons and firms that receive added income as a result of local spending by employees of the firms that are impacted by the direct and indirect effects. Direct effect is defined above.

Tunicate: primitive marine chordate animals of the subphylum Tunicata, having a rounded or cylindrical body that is enclosed in a tough outer covering

U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ): the area extending 200 nautical miles (370.4 kilometers) from the coast of the U.S., over which a nation has rights to exploration and use of maritime resources

U.S. coral jurisdiction: the 15 US coral jurisdictions are found across the US and Pacific Freely Associated States. From East to West, the six Atlantic/Caribbean/Gulf of Mexico jurisdictions are the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), Puerto Rico, Navassa Island, Southeast Florida, the Florida Keys, and the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and other banks of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. In the Pacific, the nine jurisdictions are the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI), Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), American Samoa, Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA), Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI), Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), Guam, and the Republic of Palau.

Value added: the value of a firm's output minus the value of inputs it purchases from other firms

Wetlands: an area of land whose soil is saturated with moisture either permanently or seasonally. Wetlands include estuaries, swamps, marshes, and bogs, among others. The water found in wetlands can be saltwater, freshwater, or brackish.