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Last Glacial Maximum

Kristine DeLong, Louisiana State University , SERC On The Cutting Edge Collection

In this activity for undergraduates, students explore the CLIMAP (Climate: Long-Range Investigation, Mapping and Prediction) model results for differences between the modern and the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) and discover the how climate and vegetation may have changed in different regions of the Earth based on scientific data.

Activity takes two class periods. Computers with Internet access required.

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Climate Literacy
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Climate is complex
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Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
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Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models
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1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:G) Drawing conclusions and developing explanations
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1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
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1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:E) Organizing information
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1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:F) Working with models and simulations
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2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.1 The Earth as a Physical System:A) Processes that shape the Earth
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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

  • Lesson should start with an introduction to the model that was used in the CLIMAP study.

About the Science

  • Engages learners in critical scientific thought by discussing the assumptions made in the CLIMAP study in 1976 and 1984 compared to what we know now about climate change since the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
  • Model output data is somewhat dated, but because it is focused on paleoclimatic data it still provides valid information about the climatic conditions during the last glacial maximum.
  • Comment from expert scientist: The activity uses a widely-accessible and heavily cited model of climate conditions for the Last Glacial Maximum and the present. The CLIMAP model can be viewed on a variety of scales (global to sub-regional) and considers a great variety of paleoclimate data types. The assumptions used in developing the model are clear in the two papers referenced in this activity, and it is especially useful that students are required to read the papers and explicitly identify the assumptions. The "extra activities" are good at addressing the one, minor scientific concern that the CLIMAP reconstruction is out of date. Indeed, a lot of new paleoclimate data have become available since 1984. It allows students to see the progression of science over periods of years (CLIMAP to COHMAP) and decades (CLIMAP to MARGO), which is absolutely important.

About the Pedagogy

  • Skimming scientific papers, graphing data on maps and interpretation of maps/data engages students of different learning styles.
  • Group work or jigsaw approach will be very effective.
  • PowerPoint and student handout are provided. Follow-up questions are suggested.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Well-designed and relevant materials available. Only background reading is not provided digitally.

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

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