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Gallery of Temperature Change Data

Robert A. Rohde, Global Warming Art

This gallery of ten temperature graphs shows global temperatures on different timescales from decades (recently measured temperatures) to centuries (reconstructed) to millions of years (modeled from ice cores).

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Climate Literacy
About Teaching Climate Literacy

A range of natural records shows that the last 10,000 years have been an unusually stable period in Earth’s climate history. Modern human societies developed during this time. The agricultural, economic, and transportation systems we rely upon are vulnerable if the climate changes significantly.
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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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Scientific observations indicate that global climate has changed in the past, is changing now, and will change in the future. The magnitude and direction of this change is not the same at all locations on Earth.
About Teaching Principle 4
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Based on evidence from tree rings, other natural records, and scientific observations made around the world, Earth’s average temperature is now warmer than it has been for at least the past 1,300 years. Average temperatures have increased markedly in the past 50 years, especially in the North Polar Region.
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Benchmarks for Science Literacy
Learn more about the Benchmarks

The earth's climates have changed in the past, are currently changing, and are expected to change in the future, primarily due to changes in the amount of light reaching places on the earth and the composition of the atmosphere. The burning of fossil fuels in the last century has increased the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which has contributed to Earth's warming.
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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

  • Instructor can use the graphs in a jigsaw approach to get at temperature change over time and climate variability, allowing students to explore the different methods used to collect data and consider reasons for the uncertainty in the data.
  • The link to "Predictions of Future Change Gallery" could serve as an entry point to discussing models.

About the Science

  • A series of 10 graphs that describe different sets of temperature change data, includes surface global and reconstructed temperatures, Holocene and ice age temperature variations.
  • Each graph is well-labeled, referenced and can be easily used in a classroom setting.
  • Comments from expert scientist: Well-designed, attractive, and easy to interpret data plots. Each figure provides a useful "Description" section with useful background and a lot of helpful links, including links to original datasets. There is a lot to explore here and the author has done careful work.

About the Pedagogy

  • Some of the graphs will need explanation by instructor.
  • The link to "Predictions of Future Change Gallery" provides model predictions to 2100. This could evolve with time as research proceeds.

Technical Details/Ease of Use

  • Easy-to-use, scientifically sound graphs

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