Jump to this Activity »
Exploring NCAR Climate Change Data Using GIS
http://serc.carleton.edu/eet/ncardatagis/index.html

Jennifer Boehnert, Lawrence Buja, Constantin Cranganu, Cathy Reznicek, David Smith, Michele Thornton, Olga Wilhelmi, Earth Exploration Toolbook

This Earth Exploration Toolbook chapter uses ArcGIS and climate data from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Climate Change Scenarios GIS Data Portal to help users learn the basics of GIS-based climate modeling. The five-part exercise involves calculating summer average temperatures for the present day and future climate modeled output, visually comparing the temperature differences for the two model runs, and creating a temperature anomaly map to highlight air temperature increases or decreases around the world.

Activity takes three to five 60-minute periods. Computer access required.

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

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Observations, experiments, and theory are used to construct and refine computer models that represent the climate system and make predictions about its future behavior. Results from these models lead to better understanding of the linkages between the atmosphere-ocean system and climate conditions and inspire more observations and experiments. Over time, this iterative process will result in more reliable projections of future climate conditions.
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5c
Incidents of extreme weather are projected to increase as a result of climate change. Many locations will see a substantial increase in the number of heat waves they experience per year and a likely decrease in episodes of severe cold. Precipitation events are expected to become less frequent but more intense in many areas, and droughts will be more frequent and severe in areas where average precipitation is projected to decrease.
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7c
Human health and mortality rates will be affected to different degrees in specific regions of the world as a result of climate change. Although cold-related deaths are predicted to decrease, other risks are predicted to rise. The incidence and geographical range of climate-sensitive infectious diseases—such as malaria, dengue fever, and tick-borne diseases—will increase. Drought-reduced crop yields, degraded air and water quality, and increased hazards in coastal and low-lying areas will contribute to unhealthy conditions, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.
About Teaching Principle 7
Other materials addressing 7f

Excellence in Environmental Education Guidelines

1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:C) Collecting information
Other materials addressing:
C) Collecting information.
1. Questioning, Analysis and Interpretation Skills:F) Working with models and simulations
Other materials addressing:
F) Working with models and simulations.
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:2.2 The Living Environment:A) Organisms, populations, and communities
Other materials addressing:
A) Organisms, populations, and communities.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.2 The Living Environment:C) Systems and connections
Other materials addressing:
C) Systems and connections.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:A) Human/environment interactions
Other materials addressing:
A) Human/environment interactions.
2. Knowledge of Environmental Processes and Systems:2.4 Environment and Society:E) Environmental Issues
Other materials addressing:
E) Environmental Issues.

Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

Computer modeling explores the logical consequences of a set of instructions and a set of data. The instructions and data input of a computer model try to represent the real world so the computer can show what would actually happen. In this way, computers assist people in making decisions by simulating the consequences of different possible decisions.
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

  • The instructions explain how to skip the download step in Part 1 and get the appropriate files directly.
  • Files are also available for the calculations steps in Parts 2 and 3.

About the Science

  • Activity is GIS-based climate modeling using NCAR climate scenarios and data.
  • The data sources are from simulations run on the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 4th Assessment Report.
  • There is a compelling case study about the 2003 heatwave in France as well as links to important background materials to support the teaching of this lesson. It introduces this extreme event as one possible impact of the increasing mean air temperature in this century.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Highly structured exercise. Targeted to advanced students in the Earth sciences and geography. Students must be comfortable manipulating data and technical software tools.
  • The instructions are very thorough (including screenshots).
  • The resource can be used to develop skills in downloading simulation data from a web-based data portal and working with a geographic information system to perform calculations and create maps. Most of these steps can be skipped to focus on the temperature anomaly map.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Carefully constructed with show/hide options to provide reinforcement and support
  • A major issue is that this resource uses ESRI's ArcGIS 9.3 software running on the Windows operating system. You can request an evaluation DVD of ArcGIS 9.x from ESRI, but the software requirements will be a significant barrier for some users.
  • Teachers using this lesson need to be proficient in ArcGIS.

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