Carrying capacity

 The limit to the amount of life, or economic activity, that can be supported by an environment; the reasonable limits of human occupancy and/or resource use.


A hole made in a cliff or rockface. It is caused by the sea wearing away a weaker part of the rock.


 An island formed from silt deposited in a delta. The land is about at sea level. It is very fertile and attracts settlers desperate for land. However, it can easily be washed away by monsoon floods and cyclones. Even if the cyclones do not destroy the chars, they flood them with salt water which reduces their fertility.

Characterization of exposure

 A portion of the analysis phase of ecological risk assessment that evaluates the interaction of the stressor with one or more ecological entities. Exposure can be expressed as co-occurrence or contact, depending on the stressor and ecological component involved.

Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD

  A measure of the amount of oxygen required to oxidize (with a chemical oxidant) the amount of organic and oxidizable inorganic compounds in water.  Note: both COD and BOD (see above) test biological demands on oxygen resources.


A fine grained, plastic, sediment with a typical grain size less than 0.004 mm. Possesses electromagnetic properties which bind the grains together to give a bulk strength or cohesion.


A steep or vertical rock face at the edge of the sea or at the back of a beach.

Coastal baseline

 A constructed, geo-specific, line from which the distance to the edge of the Territorial Sea of a country is plotted.

Coastal defence

 General term used to encompass both coast protection against erosion and sea defence against flooding.

Coastal Defense

General term used to encompass both coast protection against erosion and sea defense against flooding.

Coastal processes

 Collective term covering the action of natural forces on the shoreline, and nearshore seabed.

Coastal strip

 A zone directly to the waterline, where only coast related activities take place. Usually this is a strip of some 100 m wide. In this strip, coastal defense activities take place.In this strip often there may be restrictions to land use.

Coastal woodland

 area of coastal trees and large shrubs located behind the beach, also referred to as coastal forest zone.

Coastal zone

 A zone comprising coastal waters (including the lands there under) at the adjacent shorelands; the zone strongly influenced by both sea and land and including smaller near-coast islands, transitional and intertidal areas, wetlands(mangroves and marshes) and beaches.

Coastal Zone Management (CZM)

 A governmental process for achieving sustainable use of resources of the coastal zone whereby participation by all affected economic sectors, governmental agencies and non-government organizations is involved; unified or integrated coastal zone management when the management actions of the various stakeholders are formally unified and community participation is emphasized.

Coastguard Station

A building usually in a place with good views of the sea. The coastguard's job is to keep a lookout for boats and ships in trouble and to organise help - by lifeboat, helicopter, etc. - when it is needed. They can receive radio messages from ships in trouble.


 Coastline is the interface between the ocean and the land - dynamic morphological entity 


 A rock fragment between 64 and 256 mm in diameter usually rounded.

Conceptual model

 A conceptual model in problem formulation is a written description and visual representation of predicted relationships between ecological entities and the stressors to which they may be exposed.


 In relation to risk analysis, the outcome or result of a hazard being realized.


 The political/social/economic process by which the wise use of resources is exercised and environments are protected.

Container Port

A port where container ships unload and load. The ships carry their goods in large, box-shaped metal containers and the port has special cranes to load and unload these. You can sometimes see these containers on lorries being driven to or from the ports.

Continental Slope

The declivity from the offshore border of the continental shelf to oceanic depths. It is characterized by a marked increase in slope.

Coral Bleaching

 A phenomenon in which corals under stress (e.g., by elevated water temperature) expel their symbiotic algae (zooxanthellae) in large numbers, or the concentration of algal photosynthetic pigments decreases. As a result, the corals' white skeletons show through their tissue and they appear bleached.

Coral Reef

A coral-algal mound or ridge of in-place coral colonies and skeletal fragments, carbonate sand, and organically-secreted calcium carbonate. A coral reef is built up around a wave-resistant framework, usually of older coral colonies. Extensive limestone structures built largely by corals. They occur primarily in shallow tropical and provide habitat for a large variety of other marine life forms.


 Action or measure taken to reduce risk.  Can be in form of design, operational or maintenance procedures.


 Highest point on a beach face, breakwater, or seawall

Crest Length

The length of a wave along its crest. Sometimes called crest width.

Crest of WaveThe highest part of a wave

Cross-sectoral links

 The connections between different sectors, such as agriculture, health, infrastructure, etc, particularly, the way in which livelihoods span these sectors.

Cumulative impacts

 Environmental impacts caused by multiple human activities; that is, the combined environmental impacts that accrue from a number of individual actions, contaminants, or projects, whereby actions which may each be acceptable individually have a significant impact in combination.


 Any current in the littoral zone caused primarily by wave action; e.g., longshore current, rip current.


One of a series of short ridges on the foreshore separated by crescent-shaped troughs spaced at more or less regular intervals. Between these cusps are hollows. The cusps are spaced at somewhat uniform distances along beaches. They represent a combination of constructive and destructive processes.