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Changes in global average surface temperature, global average sea level, and northern hemisphere snow cover

IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) AR4 Synthesis Report

Key figure from the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that shows changes in global average surface temperature, global average sea level, and Northern Hemisphere snow cover from as far back as 1850.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Changes in climate is normal but varies over times/ space
About Teaching Principle 4
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Global warming and especially arctic warming is recorded in natural geological and historic records
About Teaching Principle 4
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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

  • For background on this figure, see it in the context of the IPCC AR4 Synthesis Report see http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/spms1.html
  • Figure caption reads: Observed changes in (a) global average surface temperature; (b) global average sea level from tide gauge (blue) and satellite (red) data and (c) Northern Hemisphere snow cover for March-April. All differences are relative to corresponding averages for the period 1961-1990. Smoothed curves represent decadal averaged values, while circles show yearly values. The shaded areas are the uncertainty intervals estimated from a comprehensive analysis of known uncertainties (a and b) and from the time series (c).

About the Science

  • This visualization of several critical data sets is from the IPCC Fourth Assessment (AR4) Synthesis Report from 2007 based on figures and data sources in the Working Group 1 report.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Figure contains important data and is accurate, but page contains no caption, references or other info to help the user.

About the Pedagogy

  • These datasets provide the critical evidence for the primary impacts of the recent rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations. They will be central to any discussion of climate change.
  • Teacher will need to explain the vertical axis label (difference from 1961-1990) to younger students.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • This is a simple and direct visualization of three main climate change datasets with yearly values, decadal averaged values, and uncertainty intervals.

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

For background on this figure see it in the context of the IPCC AR4 Synthesis Report - http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/spms1.html.

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