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Risks from climate change, by reason for concern—2001 compared with updated data.

National Institute of Health

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A colorful graphic that depicts the risks to the environment from different degrees of temperature rise. This graphic addresses how risks change as global mean temperature increases.

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Climate Literacy
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Ecosystems on land and in the ocean have been and will continue to be disturbed by climate change
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Climate change has consequences
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Changes in environmental conditions can affect the survival of individual organisms and entire species.
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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

About the Science

  • This figure is taken from this 2009 article – http://www.climatenetwork.org/sites/default/files/PNAS_IPCC_Reassessing_DANGEROUS_CC.full_.pdf. It updates Figure SPM2 first presented in IPCC TAR SPM of WG II- see http://www.grida.no/publications/other/ipcc5Ftar/src/climate/ipcc_tar/wg2/figspm-2.htm.
  • The figure describe revisions of the sensitivities of the 5 reasons for concern (RFCs) to increases in global mean temperature and a more thorough understanding of the concept of vulnerability that has evolved since 2001.
  • This is based on expert judgment about new findings in the growing literature since the publication of the TAR in 2001 including literature that was assessed in the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report AR4 as well as additional research published since AR4.
  • The 5 reasons for concern are Risk to Unique and Threatened Systems, Risk of Extreme Weather Events, Distribution of Impacts, Aggregate Damages, and Risks of Large-Scale Discontinuities.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • The original figure was designed primarily to communicate the associations of impacts with increases in global mean temperature and facilitate examination of the underlying evidence for use by decision-makers contemplating responses to these concerns.
  • This figure is a revision of that original figure. The differences provide an opportunity to discuss how recent research as changed some of the original assessments.
  • May be a little complex; high school (9-12) and college (13-16)
  • Full PNAS article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2648893/

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • The figure is a compelling way of highlighting the major impacts of climate change. The original visualization on the left of this particular figure has come to be called the burning embers diagram.

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