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How Climate Feedbacks Worsen Global Warming

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This is a video that discusses how climate feedbacks influence global warming.

Video length 5:04 min.

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

Covering 70% of Earth's surface, the ocean exerts a major control on climate by dominating Earth's energy and water cycles. It has the capacity to absorb large amounts of solar energy. Heat and water vapor are redistributed globally through density-driven ocean currents and atmospheric circulation. Changes in ocean circulation caused by tectonic movements or large influxes of fresh water from melting polar ice can lead to significant and even abrupt changes in climate, both locally and on global scales.
About Teaching Principle 2
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The abundance of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is controlled by biogeochemical cycles that continually move these components between their ocean, land, life, and atmosphere reservoirs. The abundance of carbon in the atmosphere is reduced through seafloor accumulation of marine sediments and accumulation of plant biomass and is increased through deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels as well as through other processes.
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The interconnectedness of Earth’s systems means that a significant change in any one component of the climate system can influence the equilibrium of the entire Earth system. Positive feedback loops can amplify these effects and trigger abrupt changes in the climate system. These complex interactions may result in climate change that is more rapid and on a larger scale than projected by current climate models.
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mate change will have consequences for the Earth system and human lives
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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

  • Use as a resource after teaching about the carbon cycle and greenhouse effect.
  • Run video through once, and then restart it to eliminate commercial for classroom use.
  • Educator may want to use accompanying visual examples of ocean acidification, ice albedo, and water vapor as a greenhouse gas.

About the Science

  • A British scientist, who has been involved with IPCC AR4, explains amplifying feedback. The primary focus is on how water vapor functions as a greenhouse gas, but he also cites other examples of climate feedbacks - ice albedo and ocean acidification.
  • Passed initial science review - expert science review pending.

About the Pedagogy

  • Good and accessible explanation of what a feedback mechanism is/does and the difference between positive and negative feedback.
  • This is strictly an interview with a scientist - no visuals to illustrate.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Brief commercial at beginning of video.

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