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Climate Change: How Do We Know?
http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA

This static graph of changes in CO2 concentrations goes back 400,000 years, showing the dramatic spike in recent years.

Learn more about Teaching Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness»

ngssSee how this Static Visualization supports the Next Generation Science Standards»
Middle School: 1 Disciplinary Core Idea, 3 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices
High School: 3 Disciplinary Core Ideas, 2 Cross Cutting Concepts, 3 Science and Engineering Practices

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

  • Visualization could be used as an motivational introduction to the main cause of climate change, namely CO2 emissions.
  • Other versions of this exist, but this high quality graphic has "added value" with additional information on the evidence for human impacts and sources to relevant data.
  • This graphic/image could also be used to discuss the importance of time series data and the nature of science.
  • With a focus on the evidence that human activities are the reason for the recent increase in CO2, the webpage also includes summaries of the evidence and observations of recent change, plus links to the sources of the information.

About the Science

  • A static visualization demonstrating evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution.
  • The page provides the key sources of data and information contained on the page with a brief explanation of the graphic.
  • CO2 concentrations in ice cores have been measured back 800,000 years as of 2008 but still show the same pattern.
  • Comment from expert scientist: The subject is discussed in a scientifically valid and clear way.

About the Pedagogy

  • Static image on CO2 increases is a compelling illustration.
  • This image/illustration summarizes climate fluctuations over the past 400,000 years.
  • Students could be encouraged to go to the cited references and go beyond the image to discuss the significance of the increase being human induced.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The image can be saved to the desktop or viewed online, which would provide the ability to research the additional resources and for students to gather more information independently.

Next Generation Science Standards See how this Static Visualization supports:

Middle School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 1

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: 3

Patterns, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

MS-C1.2: Patterns in rates of change and other numerical relationships can provide information about natural and human designed systems

MS-C1.4:Graphs, charts, and images can be used to identify patterns in data.

MS-C3.1:Time, space, and energy phenomena can be observed at various scales using models to study systems that are too large or too small.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

MS-P1.7:Ask questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument or the interpretation of a data set.

MS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, models, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

MS-P1.3:Ask questions to determine relationships between independent and dependent variables and relationships in models.

High School

Disciplinary Core Ideas: 3

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-LS2.C2:Moreover, anthropogenic changes (induced by human activity) in the environment—including habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, overexploitation, and climate change—can disrupt an ecosystem and threaten the survival of some species.

Cross Cutting Concepts: 2

Patterns, Scale, Proportion and Quantity

HS-C1.5:Empirical evidence is needed to identify patterns.

HS-C3.4:Using the concept of orders of magnitude allows one to understand how a model at one scale relates to a model at another scale.

Science and Engineering Practices: 3

Asking Questions and Defining Problems

HS-P1.1:Ask questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

HS-P1.3:ask questions to determine relationships, including quantitative relationships, between independent and dependent variables

HS-P1.7:Ask and/or evaluate questions that challenge the premise(s) of an argument, the interpretation of a data set, or the suitability of a design.


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