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Brazilian Deforestation and the Hydrosphere

Joe-Anne Corwin Jamie Fryrear, Challeneger Learning Centers

Students read an article about the impact of deforestation on the hydrosphere and answer review questions. Students choose two variables and make a prediction. Students pick a previous year to study and use the NASA Earth Observatory (NEO) website to download datasets showing different variables overlaying Rondonia and Mato Grosso, Brazil. Using visual analysis techniques, students explain whether their prediction was confirmed or not during the year in question.

2- 50 minute class periods

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

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.
About Teaching Principle 2
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Airborne particulates, called "aerosols," have a complex effect on Earth’s energy balance: they can cause both cooling, by reflecting incoming sunlight back out to space, and warming, by absorbing and releasing heat energy in the atmosphere. Small solid and liquid particles can be lofted into the atmosphere through a variety of natural and man-made processes, including volcanic eruptions, sea spray, forest fires, and emissions generated through human activities.
About Teaching Principle 2
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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 is regulated by complex interactions among components of the Earth system
About Teaching Principle C
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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

  • Consider using the reading as an assessment instead of an introduction. Let students make predictions on the article review page and then launch into the hands on collection of data portion of the activity.
  • Consider switching the order of activities - explore NEO datasets and then follow with reading. Provide more time and structure for students to unpack all the information in the reading.

About the Science

  • Students learn about relationships between a series of variables connected to Brazilian deforestation–smoke from fires, photosynthesis from vegetation, water vapor, cloud cover, rainfall and temperature. They use Google Earth and NASA Earth Observatory (NEO) data to collect data and verify their predictions.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Presenting complex interactions between the biosphere and atmosphere in a digestible way and giving the students the opportunity to download and use original data, interpret the patterns they see, and summarize.

About the Pedagogy

  • The background student reading is dense and the assignment might be better served by using the original articles from which it was created. Students will need to unpack the background material - to a greater extent than provided in the activity – for it to be useful.
  • The teacher materials are extensive and a final assessment rubric is provided.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Teachers will need to review how to access NASA Earth Observatory (NEO) data before students do the investigation.

Related URLs These related sites were noted by our reviewers but have not been reviewed by CLEAN


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