Jump to this Activity »
Seasonal Change on Land and Water
http://www.globe.gov/documents/356823/356868/earth_la_seaphen_s5.pdf

GLOBE Program

In this worksheet-based activity, students review global visualizations of incoming sunlight and surface temperature and discuss seasonal change. Students use the visualizations to support inquiry on the differences in seasonal change in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and how land and water absorb and release heat differently. The activity culminates in an argument about why one hemisphere experiences warmer summers although it receives less total solar energy.

Activity takes one class period.

Discuss this Resource»
Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

The tilt of Earth’s axis relative to its orbit around the Sun results in predictable changes in the duration of daylight and the amount of sunlight received at any latitude throughout a year. These changes cause the annual cycle of seasons and associated temperature changes.
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1c
Sunlight reaching the Earth can heat the land, ocean, and atmosphere. Some of that sunlight is reflected back to space by the surface, clouds, or ice. Much of the sunlight that reaches Earth is absorbed and warms the planet.
About Teaching Principle 1
Other materials addressing 1a
Earth’s climate is influenced by interactions involving the Sun, ocean, atmosphere, clouds, ice, land, and life. Climate varies by region as a result of local differences in these interactions.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2a
Covering 70% of Earth's surface, the ocean exerts a major control on climate by dominating Earth's energy and water cycles. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of solar energy. Heat and water vapor are redistributed globally through density-driven ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Changes in ocean circulation caused by tectonic movements or large influxes of fresh water from melting polar ice can lead to significant and even abrupt changes in climate, both locally and on global scales.
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2b

Energy Literacy

Earth's weather and climate is mostly driven by energy from the Sun.
Other materials addressing:
2.3 Earth's climate driven by the Sun.
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow through the Earth system.
Other materials addressing:
Physical processes on Earth are the result of energy flow .

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations
Other materials addressing:
G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
Other materials addressing:
A) Processes that shape the Earth.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:C) Energy
Other materials addressing:
C) Energy.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Thermal energy carried by ocean currents has a strong influence on climates around the world. Areas near oceans tend to have more moderate temperatures than they would if they were farther inland but at the same latitude because water in the oceans can hold a large amount of thermal energy.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Because the earth turns daily on an axis that is tilted relative to the plane of the earth's yearly orbit around the sun, sunlight falls more intensely on different parts of the earth during the year. The difference in intensity of sunlight and the resulting warming of the earth's surface produces the seasonal variations in temperature.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Climatic conditions result from latitude, altitude, and from the position of mountain ranges, oceans, and lakes. Dynamic processes such as cloud formation, ocean currents, and atmospheric circulation patterns influence climates as well.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark
Light and other electromagnetic waves can warm objects. How much an object's temperature increases depends on how intense the light striking its surface is, how long the light shines on the object, and how much of the light is absorbed.
Explore the map of concepts related to this benchmark

Notes From Our Reviewers The CLEAN collection is hand-picked and rigorously reviewed for scientific accuracy and classroom effectiveness. Read what our review team had to say about this resource below or learn more about how CLEAN reviews teaching materials
Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy | Technical Details

Teaching Tips

  • An additional assessment strategy for students should be designed to ensure student understanding of the lesson and to prevent misconceptions from being developed.
  • Educator should set the stage for the activity with a demonstration of the reason for the seasons.
  • If a color copier/printer or computer projector are not available, there is an opportunity for students to color their own diagrams.

About the Science

  • Worksheet-based activity in which students interpret global visualizations of incoming solar radiation, average surface temperatures, land/sea distribution diagrams in order to understand the reason for the seasons and the effect of different heat capacities of land and water.
  • Good background information, but additional reference materials are not provided to support educator.
  • The oblique diagram on Earth’s location relative to the sun appears to show a highly elliptical orbit that may cause misconceptions. It should be pointed out that the diagram on the left is oblique and the diagram on the right is looking straight down on the orbital plane.
  • This activity may not effectively address (and could reinforce) misconceptions about the reason for the seasons.
  • Comment from scientist: Freezing point of water is 0 deg C and not 3 deg C. Incoming solar radiation is approx 342 W/m2 and not 300.
  • The term albedo should be introduced when teaching about reflectiveness of different surfaces, and the term heat capacity could be made explicit in the student materials to introduce students to proper scientific terminology.

About the Pedagogy

  • Well-designed worksheet, good visualizations and guidance for educator. Rubrics/answer key for assessing students are available.
  • Resource urges group work and discussion among groups, which enhance learning for diverse groups.
  • Material is challenging to teach and engage students. It will need skilled educator guidance.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN


Jump to this Activity »



Have you used these materials with your students? Do you have insights to share with other educators about their use? Please share with the community by adding a comment below.

Please use this space only for discussion about teaching with these particular materials.
For more general discussion about teaching climate literacy please use our general discussion boards.
To report a problem or direct a comment to the CLEAN project team please use our feedback form (or the feedback link at the bottom of every page).
Off-topic posts will be deleted.

Join the Discussion


Log in to reply