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Changes in Hardiness Zones
http://www.arborday.org/media/mapchanges.cfm

Arbor Day Foundation

This animation illustrates how the hardiness zones for plants have changed between 1990 and 2006 based on an extensive updating of U.S. Hardiness Zones using data from 5,000 National Climatic Data Center cooperative stations across the continental United States.

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Climate Literacy
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Individual organisms survive within specific ranges of temperature, precipitation, humidity, and sunlight. Organisms exposed to climate conditions outside their normal range must adapt or migrate, or they will perish.
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Climate change is a significant and persistent change in an area’s average climate conditions or their extremes. Seasonal variations and multi-year cycles (for example, the El Niño Southern Oscillation) that produce warm, cool, wet, or dry periods across different regions are a natural part of climate variability. They do not represent climate change.
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change. Animals, plants, bacteria, and viruses will migrate to new areas with favorable climate conditions. Infectious diseases and certain species will be able to invade areas that they did not previously inhabit.
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
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The world contains a wide diversity of physical conditions, which creates a wide variety of environments: freshwater, marine, forest, desert, grassland, mountain, and others. In any particular environment, the growth and survival of organisms depend on the physical conditions
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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

  • This would be a good tool to introduce the idea that the climate is warming and provide a national frame to local and regional changes.

About the Science

  • The Arbor Day Foundation determined a need for a new hardiness zone map and used NOAA data to create the newer 2006 map http://www.arborday.org/media/zonechanges2006.cfm.
  • The US Department of Agriculture continues to use the map they generated in 1990.
  • A related map shows where the largest changes from 1990 to 2006 have occurred: http://www.arborday.org/media/map_change.cfm.
  • Comments from expert scientist: The changes of the hardiness zones in the U.S. are consistent with the phenolgy changes reported in the scientific literature.

About the Pedagogy

  • Comparing the 1990 and 2006 US Hardiness Zones gives students a good idea of how tangibly the annual temperatures in the continental US have warmed over 15 years.
  • Emphasizing why gardeners and farmers rely on the Hardiness Zone maps can help explain their relevance.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • When the user presses "play" there is a visible shift in the hardiness zone from 1990 to 2006. When the user presses "difference", the shifts across zones are highlighted.
  • There is some commentary about these maps in the press release - http://www.arborday.org/media/zonechanges2006.cfm
  • A high-resolution version of this map is available for download.

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