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About Teaching Climate Literacy
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Teaching Tips | Science | Pedagogy |
- Students might need to view the video multiple times to also get at the data shown on the left side of the screen.
- Educators may want to look at http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/normals/usnormals.html for additional information about the new 1981-2010 Climate Normals.
About the Science
- This short video describes the development of new climate normals, i.e. 30-year averages for weather data, by the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC). Every decade, the NCDC provides these averages for 10,000 regions in the US. The shift from averages based on 1970-2000 data to ones based on 1980-2010 data means that the cooler decade of the 1970s will be replaced by a warmer one of the 2000s. This has important implications for energy demand, forecasts, agricultural planting strategies, daily weather forecasts, etc.
- This short video makes it clear how weather data, esp. temperature and precipitation data, becomes climate data through 30-year averages.
- Comments from expert scientist: This resource provides a very good general description of climate normals and why they change every year. The industries used to illustrate the uses of climate normals were appropriate and expected. It does not include details about what goes into a climate normal calculation, including corrections for station moves, instrument changes and changes in the time of observation.
About the Pedagogy
- Starts with a discussion of 2011 as the current year, which was a very unusual winter in terms of snowfall and may seem like an aberration when compared with other recent winters.
- Rapid-fire delivery of content at a high level and with information with which many students may not be familiar.
- Students are encouraged to think about the broad implications of climate change as they see how the updates of the new climate normals affect many practical day-to-day forecasts.
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