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The Ecology of Climate Change

American Museum of Natural History

This video focuses on the conifer forest in Alaska to explore the carbon cycle and how the forest responds to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide. Topics addressed in the video include wildfires, reflectivity, and the role of permafrost in the global carbon cycle.

Video length: 8:07 min.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Video supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 6 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept
High School: 8 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 1 Cross Cutting Concept

Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Biogeochemical cycles of greenhouse gases / Carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 2
Other materials addressing 2d
Climate's role in habitats ranges and adaptation of species to climate changes
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3a
Climate impacts ecosystems and past species extinctions
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3c
Biosphere drives the global carbon cycle
About Teaching Principle 3
Other materials addressing 3e
Observations are the foundation for understanding the climate system
About Teaching Principle 5
Other materials addressing 5b

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

About the Science

  • Video examines research being conducted on the climate change in the boreal forests, its permafrost, carbon sinks and feedbacks.
  • Examines the impact of wildfires on boreal forests and the resulting shift from coniferous forests to deciduous forests, the latter acting as a larger carbon sink with increased biomass production and increased albedo.
  • Video notes the need to couple this emerging knowledge, such as knowledge about permafrost thaw, into climate models.
  • Comments from expert scientist: This is a beautifully made movie. However, the information is passed on very quickly. This movie has beautiful footage and is very good in showing the methods of measuring aspects important for future climate change.

About the Pedagogy

  • There is an essay that accompanies the video. In addition, there is a section for educators that outlines strategies for using the Science Bulletin videos at the American Museum of Natural History website.
  • This video might be best suited for college undergraduates or AP environmental science in high school.
  • There are a variety of data collection methods shown.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Great attention to detail.
  • Shows scientists in the field and in vignettes explaining the science.
  • Good embedded graphic visualization of coniferous boreal forests changing to deciduous forests.
  • The Ecology of Climate Change can be viewed in low, medium, or high resolution.
  • Auditory impaired text scroll on bottom during video helps to track storyline.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Video supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 6

MS-PS3.D1:The chemical reaction by which plants produce complex food molecules (sugars) requires an energy input (i.e., from sunlight) to occur. In this reaction, carbon dioxide and water combine to form carbon-based organic molecules and release oxygen.

MS-PS3.D2:Cellular respiration in plants and animals involve chemical reactions with oxygen that release stored energy. In these processes, complex molecules containing carbon react with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide and other materials.

MS-LS1.C1:Plants, algae (including phytoplankton), and many microorganisms use the energy from light to make sugars (food) from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and water through the process of photosynthesis, which also releases oxygen. These sugars can be used immediately or stored for growth or later use.

MS-PS4.B1:When light shines on an object, it is reflected, absorbed, or transmitted through the object, depending on the object’s material and the frequency (color) of the light.

MS-ESS2.D1:Weather and climate are influenced by interactions involving sunlight, the ocean, the atmosphere, ice, landforms, and living things. These interactions vary with latitude, altitude, and local and regional geography, all of which can affect oceanic and atmospheric flow patterns.

MS-ESS3.D1:Human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature (global warming). Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Systems and System Models

MS-C4.1: Systems may interact with other systems; they may have sub-systems and be a part of larger complex systems.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 8

HS-ESS2.D1:The foundation for Earth’s global climate systems is the electromagnetic radiation from the sun, as well as its reflection, absorption, storage, and redistribution among the atmosphere, ocean, and land systems, and this energy’s re-radiation into space.

HS-ESS2.D2:Gradual atmospheric changes were due to plants and other organisms that captured carbon dioxide and released oxygen.

HS-ESS2.D3:Changes in the atmosphere due to human activity have increased carbon dioxide concentrations and thus affect climate.

HS-ESS2.E1:The many dynamic and delicate feedbacks between the biosphere and other Earth systems cause a continual co-evolution of Earth’s surface and the life that exists on it.

HS-ESS2.D4:Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere.

HS-LS2.B3:Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are important components of the carbon cycle, in which carbon is exchanged among the biosphere, atmosphere, oceans, and geosphere through chemical, physical, geological, and biological processes.

HS-LS4.D1:Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value.

HS-LS1.C4:As a result of these chemical reactions, energy is transferred from one system of interacting molecules to another. Cellular respiration is a chemical process in which the bonds of food molecules and oxygen molecules are broken and new compounds are formed that can transport energy to muscles. Cellular respiration also releases the energy needed to maintain body temperature despite ongoing energy transfer to the surrounding environment.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 1

Systems and System Models

HS-C4.2:When investigating or describing a system, the boundaries and initial conditions of the system need to be defined and their inputs and outputs analyzed and described using models.

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