Pathogen– A disease?causing microbe.
Pelagic– Organisms living in open waters; not associated with the bottom or other structures, e. g. sharks of the open ocean.
Photosynthesis– The incorporation of solar energy into carbon compounds by green plants, chemically combining atmospheric carbon dioxide and water. The chemical opposite of respiration (the “burning” of carbon compounds to power metabolism), ultimately powering the vast majority of life on earth.
Phytoplankton– Green plants (for example algae) inhabiting waters, unattached and drifting with the currents.
Planktonic– Drifting unattached in water, the plankton include both plants and animals ranging from microscopic to those weighing several pounds or more (e.g. jellyfish).
Point Source Pollution– Pollutants are discharged from a stationary location or fixed facility; any single identifiable source of pollution; e.g. a pipe, ditch, ship.
Pollutant– Any substance, as certain chemicals or waste products, that renders the air, soil, water, or other natural resource harmful or unsuitable for a specific purpose. The term “Pollution” also includes such things as impairment to habitat and barriers to fish passage.
Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)– A family of organic compounds; mixtures of up to 209 individual chlorinated compounds. They have been used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other electrical equipment because they don’t burn easily and are good insulators. Many commercial PCB mixtures are known in the US by the trade name Aroclor.
Polynuclear Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)– A family of organic compounds deriving from fossil fuels and their combustion. The higher the molecular weight, the more environmental concern due to their bioaccumulation in organisms and their toxic, carcinogenic metabolic activity.
Population Density– the average number of people in a given unit area (e.g. number of people per square mile).
Prairie Pothole– A type of freshwater wetland consisting of various depressions interfingered with upland prairie habitat. The difference between a pothole and fresh marsh is mostly size -marshes occur in larger and generally less well-defined depressions than potholes. On the upper coast, potholes and marshes occur in complexes with pimple mounds (small hummocks 1-2 feet tall) and intermound flats.
Primary Consumer– An organism deriving its energy directly from green plants.
Primary Producer– Green plants capable of photosynthesis; the base of the food chain.
Produced Water– unwanted by-product of petroleum production; oil field brine water of potential detrimental salinity concentrations and containing toxicants such as polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), heavy metals.
Relative Sea Level Rise– The change in the position and height of sea relative to the land; determines the location of the shoreline. A rise in relative sea level may create or destroy coastal wetlands and salt marshes and induce salt-water intrusion into estuarine waters. Human actions including withdrawal of groundwater may to a local rise in relative sea level due to subsidence.
Revetment– a facing made of stone, concrete or other material to prevent erosion and/or collapse of an embankment or shoreline feature.
Riparian– Associated with the bank of a watercourse, for example the riparian woodlands bordering a river.
Risk Analysis– The estimation of hazards associated with containments or other environmental conditions, as they affect exposed humans or selected elements of the ecosystem. Seafood consumption risk analysis procedures normally follow a standardized EPA protocol.